Substitute Cauley Woodrow scored the winner deep into added time as Luton reached the fifth round of the FA Cup for only the second time in 11 years with a 2-1 victory over Everton.

The additional five minutes indicated had already passed when a goalmouth scramble at a corner saw Woodrow convert from close range after Arnaut Danjuma’s clearance had rebounded off him.

It spared the blushes of Hatters goalkeeper Tim Krul, whose error looked like allowing the hosts to escape with a replay in a tie distinctly lacking in magic for the majority.

The Netherlands international let Jack Harrison’s long-range shot squirm from his grasp and trickle over the line to cancel out Vitalii Mykolenko’s contentious first-half own goal.

Everton’s back-up goalkeeper Joao Virginia, man of the match in their third-round replay victory over Crystal Palace 10 days ago, had kept them in the game with two crucial saves while Nathan Patterson also cleared a shot off the line.

Perhaps expectations should have been lowered for a tie between the Premier League’s 17th and 18th-placed teams, both of whom have their focus on avoiding relegation, but Everton failed to make home advantage count with an uninspiring performance.

Everton started Beto in place of the injured Andre Gomes, their match-winner against Palace, for only his sixth start of the season in a switch to 4-4-2.

While the big front man was full of enthusiasm, any hope he could quickly dovetail with Dominic Calvert-Lewin was soon dispelled as the pair barely linked up with each other and frequently found themselves in the same area challenging for the same ball.

In the one time they did manage to pick each other out, Beto placed a low shot wide from the edge of the penalty area when Calvert-Lewin should probably have slipped in Harrison.

Luton were better, but not hugely, with Elijah Adebayo heading wide Carlton Morris’ hanging cross and former Toffees midfielder Ross Barkley’s shot was headed away by James Tarkowski.

When they eventually took the lead five minutes before half-time it was not without a whiff of controversy because Calvert-Lewin overcommitted trying to attack Alfie Doughty’s inswinging ball and Barkley’s helping hand ensured momentum carried him to the ground.

The ball dropped into the space behind him where Mykolenko, under pressure from Reece Burke, deflected it down inside the near post and there was no VAR ruling over Barkley’s intervention.

Everton’s equaliser came 10 minutes after the break from their one real moment of attacking quality as Beto’s cross-field pass picked out Harrison, who showed a deftness of touch he lacked for most of the game to trap and cut inside, and Krul’s weak save contributed the assist.

Either side of that Virginia displayed his growing confidence deputising for the rested Jordan Pickford, denying Morris’ header and then getting the faintest of fingertips to Adebayo’s shot across him after the Luton forward had taken advantage of Jarrad Branthwaite’s slip to create a two-on-one.

However, team-mate Andros Townsend, to his right, had good justification for wondering why he did not receive the pass but when the former Everton winger took matters into his own hands to skip past Tarkowski and Virginia, Patterson cleared Morris’ shot off the line.

Beto’s shot was deflected wide by Burke but with the seconds running out Woodrow pounced.

Adam Randell’s second-half equaliser earned Plymouth an FA Cup fourth-round replay after they held Leeds to a 1-1 draw at Elland Road.

The Plymouth midfielder converted a rare chance for his side in the 73rd minute after Jaidon Anthony’s superb solo effort had put Leeds in front at half-time.

Leeds extended their unbeaten home record to 17 games in all competitions, but saw their five-game winning run halted.

Plymouth – 15th in the Championship – are still searching for their first win on the road this season, but are now unbeaten in four games under manager Ian Foster.

The visitors threatened first when 16-goal striker Morgan Whittaker bundled Mickel Miller’s left-wing cross over the crossbar before Leeds hit the woodwork twice in quick succession.

Anthony’s angled shot from inside the box struck a post and Willy Gnonto’s follow up effort was pushed on to the crossbar by Plymouth goalkeeper Conor Hazard.

Further efforts from Joel Piroe and Ethan Ampadu were held by Hazard as Leeds laid siege on the visitors’ goal.

But it took a moment of individual brilliance from Anthony to break the deadlock in the 31st minute as he cut inside from the left and beat three defenders before arrowing a right-footed shot inside the far post.

The on-loan Bournemouth winger celebrated by paying tribute to his mum Donna, who died last week, by lifting his shirt to reveal the words ‘Rest in Perfect Peace Mum’ on his vest, for which he was booked.

Randell had a rare attempt on goal for Plymouth at the start of the second half, which was blocked and for all Leeds’ dominance it took Sam Byram’s headed goal-line clearance to keep his side in front.

Joe Rodon toe-poked the ball away from Plymouth striker Ryan Hardie and as it looped towards goal, while Byram averted the danger.

Plymouth defender Ashley Phillips thwarted Willy Gnonto in the box as Leeds pressed for a second goal, but they were pegged back by the visitors in the 73rd minute.

Substitute Mustapha Bundu picked out Randell with a fine pass into the area and the latter’s excellent first touch enabled him to fire home under Illan Meslier.

Anthony’s curling effort was held by Hazard as Leeds looked to respond and substitute Patrick Bamford’s first touch – a header from Anthony’s corner – superbly saved by Hazard.

The Argyle keeper thwarted Leeds again when saving Ilia Gruev’s 20-yard shot and Piroe volleyed an effort over the crossbar.

Bamford went agonisingly close to a stoppage-time winner when hooking fellow substitute Junior Firpo’s deflected cross inches wide, but Leeds must now head to Home Park for a replay.

Joao Pedro’s hat-trick sent Brighton through to the FA Cup fifth round with a 5-2 win at Sheffield United.

Pedro scored twice from the spot and crashed in an 18-yard drive after Facundo Buonanotte’s fine goal had given the Seagulls an early lead, with Danny Welbeck scoring at the death to seal an emphatic victory.

The Blades had battled back from 2-0 down to level thanks to goals from Gus Hamer and Will Osula but they lost to the better team at Bramall Lane.

Both sides were beaten semi-finalists in last year’s competition but it is Roberto De Zerbi’s side who are dreaming of another cup run while United can concentrate on trying to avoid Premier League relegation.

Brighton had already seen a goal chalked out for offside when they went ahead in sublime fashion in the 14th minute.

Buonanotte picked the ball up in the middle of the hosts’ half and jinked past a tackle before unleashing an unstoppable drive that found the top corner from 25 yards.

United would have been level four minutes later had it not been for some heroic defending from Jan Paul van Hecke and Igor Julio as they blocked shots from Osula and Hamer in quick succession.

That proved important as Brighton went 2-0 up just before the half-hour as a fine piece of skill from Pedro saw him burst into the area where he was clipped by Jayden Bogle.

The striker picked himself up and converted from the spot for his 16th goal of the season.

Sheffield United got one back in the 42nd minute when Osula broke clear down the right and his cross was palmed out by Brighton goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen straight into the path of Hamer, who fired home.

And in the eighth minute of time added on they got themselves level as Osula headed home Bogle’s cross from close range.

The drama continued in the second half as Brighton regained the lead seven minutes after the restart as Pedro scored his second penalty, stroking home after Bogle handled a cross.

Bogle tried to make amends at the other end as he was on the end of a lightning counter attack but saw his goalbound effort blocked by Pervis Estupinan.

Pedro claimed his first career hat-trick in the 67th minute, killing the tie with a low finish into the bottom corner.

United never threatened to get back into the game and Brighton made it five deep into added time when Welbeck fired under Blades debutant goalkeeper Ivo Grbic.

Jamie Vardy’s eighth goal of the season helped much-changed Leicester into the FA Cup fifth round with a 3-0 win against Birmingham.

Vardy broke the deadlock with a header from Marc Albrighton’s superb cross after 47 minutes before Yunus Akgun’s thunderbolt on 72 minutes sealed Leicester’s place in the fifth round.

Foxes midfielder Dennis Praet added a third goal with a cool finish after 88 minutes, with Birmingham made to rue a number of missed chances in the first half as Blues lost for the first time under new boss Tony Mowbray.

Birmingham almost took the lead after just two minutes as Foxes goalkeeper Jakub Stolarczyk made a smart save with his foot to deny Keshi Anderson from the left-hand side of the penalty area.

Blues midfielder Koji Miyoshi was next to try his luck with a fine curling effort from just inside the penalty box which went inches over the crossbar with Stolarczyk rooted to the spot.

The visitors spurned another chance to take the lead when Jordan James and Jay Stansfield played a clever one-two which sent the former through on goal only for Stolarczyk to make a crucial save.

Mowbray’s side continued to dominate the chances as Siriki Dembele saw a low shot saved before Stolarczyk denied Stansfield soon after, with the striker sending his follow-up effort over the crossbar.

Birmingham went even closer to the opening goal five minutes before the break as Stansfield poked a shot against the post from 10 yards out after good work from Dembele.

Leicester made their opponents pay for those missed chances just two minutes into the second half as Vardy headed home Albrighton’s inch-perfect cross from the right into the bottom-left corner from eight yards out.

Blues had a chance to draw level soon after only for Anderson to blaze his shot into the stand after he was picked out by Stansfield following Hamza Choudhury’s giveaway.

The home side doubled their lead after 72 minutes when Akgun collected a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area before smashing a shot into the top-left corner to score his first goal for the club.

Enzo Maresca’s side could have extended their advantage eight minutes from time only for Ben Nelson to volley straight at John Ruddy from close range after Blues failed to clear their lines at a corner.

The Foxes added some gloss to the scoreline with two minutes left to play when Praet, making his first start since August, found the bottom-right corner from substitute Tom Cannon’s cut back.

Leicester are now unbeaten in their last eight matches against Birmingham in all competitions, while Blues have failed to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup in each of the last four seasons.

George Elokobi toasted the magic of the FA Cup after a 2-1 win at Ipswich, but insisted he always believed Maidstone could produce one of the great upsets in the competition’s history.

National League South side Stones were playing their seventh FA Cup tie this season after entering in the second qualifying round and, despite facing 38 shots at Portman Road, they stunned the Sky Bet Championship promotion hopefuls.

Brazilian goalkeeper Lucas Colovan was the initial star with a string of first-half saves before Lamar Reynolds dared the 4,472-travelling support to dream with a superb lob in the 43rd minute.

When Brighton loanee Jeremy Sarmiento levelled for 1978 FA Cup winners Ipswich, Kieran McKenna’s men were expected to overpower the Kent club, but third-round hero Sam Corne had other ideas with his left-footed strike enough to earn etch Maidstone’s name in FA Cup folklore.

Ex-Wolves defender Elokobi said: “We had to be resilient for 98 minutes and I drummed this into our players.

“We prepared right and told them to enjoy the occasion because they are already history makers in the eyes of the world, eyes of the people who watch football and to take every bit of the glory today.

“When we set off this morning on our walk, we saw the fans at the pub and waved to them. That’s how we wanted to approach today. To make it historic, to have memories to look back to and again the magic of the FA Cup is making us dream again.”

Ipswich hit the post twice inside eight minutes through Sarmiento and Omari Hutchinson before Colovan denied Nathan Broadhead and Hutchinson.

Sarmiento went close again with a deflected effort and after Sone Aluko dragged wide from close-range, Maidstone sent their fans into pandemonium.

After an Ipswich corner had been cleared, Liam Sole found Reynolds, who collected the ball and scooped over Christian Walton for a memorable first goal for the club.

Sarmiento equalised soon after half-time with a curled finish, but Maidstone remained full of belief and grabbed a 66th-minute winner with another breakaway effort when Reynolds teed up Corne and he rifled in from 12-yards.

Covolan tipped Conor Chaplin’s 84th-minute effort onto the crossbar before Stones survived eight minutes of stoppage time to become only the 11th non-league outfit to reach the FA Cup fifth round.

“If you know George Elokobi, he is a believer. I am a believer,” Elokobi insisted.

“Every project I embark on as an individual and with my management team, we believe and we believed we could truly come here and compete against a fantastic Championship side.

“In our preparations we have showed every bit of respect to Ipswich Town. We normally train on 3G but we hired a grass pitch and looked at the dimensions of the Ipswich pitch.

“We also created what we would come up against, wave of attacks, so our defenders and the entire team could be resilient. Everyone knew what their jobs were and knew we had to run a little bit more than we have ever done.

“Let’s be honest nobody believed we could pull the shock out like we did against a great Ipswich side, which we watched on Monday play against Leicester.

“We knew we was coming to a tough place but it was about installing belief in them today.”

All eyes will now be on who Maidstone, – who reformed after being liquidated in 1992 – draw in Sunday’s draw.

Elokobi added: “If we can have another big tie away from home then the magic of the FA Cup is still alive. Whichever club we draw, we will take it.

“The community will be looking forward to who we draw next. Again this is the magic of the FA Cup and to be in the hat for the fifth round is truly amazing. I am really proud and honoured to be the manager leading this.”

Opposite number McKenna paid tribute Elokobi’s team.

“Look, first of all full credit to Maidstone. It’s a fantastic day for them, they worked ever so hard for it and of course they rode their luck, but they showed great spirit,” McKenna acknowledged.

“We really didn’t want to be on the end of one and prepared well and did some good things, but that’s cup competitions.”

Maidstone produced one of the great FA Cup upsets after Sam Corne downed Ipswich with a 66th-minute winner.

Corne had been the hero in round three against Stevenage and further etched his name into Stones folklore with a fine second-half finish to send George Elokobi’s National League South side into the fifth round of the competition.

Stones were indebted to goalkeeper Lucas Covolan, who made a string of saves before Lamar Reynolds excellent 43rd-minute lob dared the 4,472-travelling fans from Kent to dream.

Jeremy Sarmiento levelled for Ipswich at the start of the second half, but the Sky Bet Championship club were toppled when Corne rifled home with 24 minutes left at Portman Road to continue the fairytale run of the sixth tier side.

Maidstone had banked £231,375 in prize money on their way to the fourth round and while they had already knocked out League Two and League One opposition, Ipswich were a step up in class.

Town boss Kieran McKenna made 10 changes from Monday’s draw at fellow promotion hopefuls Leicester, but it was still one-way traffic early on.

Brighton loanee Sarmiento hit the post from 25 yards and Omari Hutchinson’s follow-up effort was saved by Stones goalkeeper Covolan inside five minutes.

Hutchinson was in the thick of the action and struck the woodwork soon after before Brazilian stopper Covolan thwarted Cameron Humphreys.

An intriguing battle between Chelsea youngster Hutchinson and Covolan had already developed with his next left-footed effort parried wide.

This was all before the 15-minute mark and while Ipswich’s relentless waves of attack momentarily calmed, Sam Morsy, Hutchinson and George Edmundson all squandered opportunities before Maidstone’s strong support were able to get excited for the first time.

Liam Sole’s lively run eventually came to nothing before a Gavin Hoyte cross was easily cleared, but it gave the support of the National League South club something to shout about.

Chants of ‘Championship, you’re having a laugh’ soon followed, although Sarmiento nearly silenced them in the 35th minute.

Sarmiento glided past one challenge and then another before his long-range strike deflected off Paul Appiah and flicked the roof of the net.

Sone Aluko was the next guilty party for Ipswich when he scuffed wide after Dominic Ball’s mishit, but it still felt a matter of time before the opener arrived.

It duly did with 43 minutes played although astonishingly went to the non-league outfit.

Maidstone broke from a corner and Sole produced a wonderful lofted pass through to Reynolds, who collected and sumptuously scooped over Christian Walton with his left foot from 18 yards to spark pandemonium.

Stones boss Elokobi kept his cool, but the rest of his staff bundled Reynolds as the away fans jumped for joy.

Half-time followed and while Ipswich had enjoyed 78 per cent possession and were 18-1 up on the shot count, it was Maidstone who held the lead.

Elokobi spent some of the interval being interviewed by BBC, but Ipswich hit back in the 56th minute.

After Stones centre-back Appiah had a pass intercepted, the hosts punished the visitors’ out-of-position defence with Jack Taylor finding Sarmiento, who curled into the corner for his second goal since arriving on loan this month.

All eyes were now on if the fairytale run of sixth-tier Maidstone would crash to juddering halt but third-round hero Corne had other ideas.

It was Sarmiento who gave away possession to Reynolds by the halfway line and Stones scorer turned creator with a pass into Corne, who impressively held off Edmundson and rifled home from 12-yards with 24 minutes left.

McKenna watched Ipswich substitute Harry Clarke test Covolan before Wes Burns fired wide and Edmundson was then booked for simulation in the 76th minute after going down with Manny Duku in close proximity.

Ipswich pushed for one last chance and their big moment arrived with six minutes left, but Conor Chaplin’s bundled effort was brilliantly tipped onto the crossbar by Covolan to ensure Maidstone progressed into the fifth round.

Erik ten Hag says Manchester United are not in a position to underestimate any opponent as his stumbling side look to keep their hopes of silverware alive in Sunday’s FA Cup clash at Newport.

This has been a challenging second season in the hotseat for the Dutchman, whose side languish eighth in the Premier League and were eliminated from European competition before Christmas.

United’s Carabao Cup defence is also long since over, meaning the FA Cup takes on extra significance as their only potential route to a trophy in a disappointing campaign.

“It is the truth,” Ten Hag said. “But it is true that the league, of course, (offers) qualification for the Champions League.

“But the FA Cup probably is, it’s fact, the last opportunity for a trophy, so we would go for it.”

FA Cup glory would be a welcome shot in the arm for a club that is preparing to go through a big transition under Ineos, who are set to take control of football operations next month.

Incoming minority owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has a bloody-minded focus on improvements across the board and this competition could provide the platform for under-scrutiny Ten Hag to impress.

United have a kind-looking fourth-round assignment at Newport, but there is no chance of complacency seeping in against the mid-table League Two outfit.

“Also in the Netherlands we have a cup and also we also play against lower-class teams,” Ten Hag said of Sunday’s trip to South Wales.

“I know always when you go as a big club to a lower class team, how it will be and how you have to approach that.

“Definitely us, we are definitely not in a position to underestimate any opponent, so we will not do.”

By “lower class” Ten Hag seems to mean lower league, with Newport the lowest ranked side he has faced in any competition since taking charge at Old Trafford.

It is also a rare away day after the third-round trip to League One outfit Wigan earlier this month ended a run of home draws in domestic cups that stretched throughout his entire reign.

Rodney Parade is much different to the DW Stadium, a former Premier League ground, but Ten Hag is confident his players will cope.

That includes summer signing Altay Bayindir, who he confirmed will finally make his United debut between the sticks at Newport.

“You have been in Fenerbahce?” Ten Hag said when asked if he has any thoughts about picking the 25-year-old Turkey international given the specific challenges of such a tie.

“The pressure is also in Turkey, that is big pressure always, also for the national team, so he knows how to deal with that.”

Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro are in contention for Sunday’s game, but Marcus Rashford and Jonny Evans are doubts having reported ill on Friday.

Andre Onana and Sofyan Amrabat remain at the Africa Cup of Nations, while Mason Mount, Anthony Martial, Tyrell Malacia and Victor Lindelof are sidelined.

Newport striker Will Evans has gone from milking cows on the family farm to scoring FA Cup goals – and now has boyhood heroes Manchester United in his sights.

United fan Evans meets the Red Devils on Sunday as Newport – 74 places below their visitors in the football pyramid and financial worlds apart – seek to produce one of the biggest upsets in the competition’s 152-year history.

It will cap an extraordinary journey that has taken Evans from the Powys family farm, rejection at Shrewsbury, and European football at two Welsh Premiership clubs before he finally landed his EFL break at Newport.

“Most kids come home from school and play football in the garden,” Evans said of his formative years at the Llangedwyn farm on the English-Welsh border near Oswestry.

“I’d come home and get the cows ready to be milked. There’s a lot of them too as dad’s got about 1,100 milking cows.

“Mucking out was punishment if I was misbehaving or in my parents’ bad books. It wasn’t something I ever wanted to do, I always wanted to study or go out and play football.”

While brothers James and Josh would end up joining the family business, Evans started out on a football path that saw him spend six years at Shrewsbury’s youth system between the ages of nine and 15.

Evans was eventually released by Shrewsbury and went to Cardiff Metropolitan University, studying a degree in sports coaching and playing in the Europa League.

He spent five years in Cardiff before the Covid pandemic struck in 2020 and returned to life on the farm, joining nearby Bala when football restarted and again playing in Europe.

Two goals in a 4-0 victory for Wales C against England eventually launched his career.

“The dream died after leaving Shrewsbury, it was basically a reset,” said Evans, now 26.

“But going to Uni  allowed me to fall in love with football again. I did well in Cardiff and at Bala, but after that Wales C game my phone was constantly ringing.

“I had calls from agents all over Europe – I don’t how people got my number – but then James Rowberry, the Newport manager, rang me and said ‘Are you free to come down tomorrow?’

“He said he thought I could fit into their system and it’s been an amazing 18 months.”

Evans was signed as a central striker but often deployed as a wing-back during his first season at Newport.

Since reverting to his customary forward role has scored 18 goals this term, including one in the third-round replay win at Eastleigh that secured County’s £400,000 pay day against United.

Current Exiles boss Graham Coughlan has insisted Evans’ form merits a call up to Rob Page’s Wales squad.

“I would have bitten your hand off to be in this position 18 months ago,” Evans said.

“I’m a massive United fan and used to go there a lot when I was a kid.

“I’ve got some really fond memories of going to Old Trafford and I’m a good friend of Eric Ramsay (United assistant manager).

“I can’t put into words what it will be like walking out to play against them.

“I’m just enjoying my football right now and don’t know what will happen in the future. But I’m not going back to the farm. It’s not happening.”

Nathan Ake admitted to a sense of relief that Manchester City finally broke their Tottenham Hotspur Stadium curse to stay on track to defend their FA Cup crown.

The holders squandered a number of chances in Friday’s fourth-round tie at Spurs before Ake poked home from close range with two minutes left.

It represented City’s first goal at Tottenham’s new home at the sixth time of asking and the centre-back conceded it felt like being another night to forget until his timely intervention.

“So happy. It was tough but we played really well over the whole game. We just had to score and it didn’t happen again for a long time. I was thinking is it going to happen but luckily we got it,” Ake said.

“I think trusting the way we played (was key). We played really well, created numerous chances and just the belief to keep going. Even though we didn’t score, just to keep going, keep trying and in the end we got it.

“I thought it is never going to come but finally we’ve done it.”

The introduction of Kevin De Bruyne proved crucial and it was his corner which created Ake’s 88th-minute winner.

De Bruyne had been left red-faced six minutes earlier when he curled wide with only Guglielmo Vicario to beat, but made amends with an exceptional set-piece delivery.

The 1-0 win made it seven victories in a row for City, who remain in the hunt for another treble after claiming Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League success last season.

Ake told ITV: “I think it was important to go through, we want to fight for every competition and this was a big step forward.”

Following a lacklustre first half, all eyes were on when De Bruyne and fit-again Spurs playmaker James Maddison would get the nod to come on.

Maddison made his first appearance since he sustained ankle ligament damage on November 6, but only touched the ball six times as Tottenham struggled to gain a foothold in the contest.

Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou hoped Maddison would be better for his 17-minute cameo with games to come against Brentford and Everton next week.

“Knowing the nature of the game, he’s trained well this week-and-a-half but he’s missed a lot of football,” Postecoglou explained.

“We were hoping to get him some minutes, which he did and he should be right to go from now on, but there’s another two games next week and we need him and others to pitch in.

“So, yeah it wasn’t really much of a dilemma about whether to start him or not. I just felt that coming off the bench was going to be better for us as a team more than anything else.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp does not expect the attitude of his players to change with the shock news he is to leave the club at the end of the season.

The news the 56-year-old will not see out his contract until 2026 was a seismic event in football and the inevitable questions immediately followed about how it would affect a campaign which, with a bit of luck, has the potential to be the greatest in the club’s history.

Liverpool are five points clear at the top of the Premier League, into the last 16 of the Europa League, the Carabao Cup final next month and home advantage against Championship side Norwich on Sunday for a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Klopp notified owners Fenway Sports Group of his decision in November but his squad only found out an hour or so before the news went public.

“The players didn’t have a lot of questions. I spoke to them all together and then a few after that,” said Klopp.

“We have a really strong bond. We are professionals. The agreement you have on both sides is you agree for one year, after that the manager can get the sack or a player can want a new contract.

“We are completely in that year and the boys see it exactly like that.

“You can see the boys are in a really good mood. They weren’t having a party when I told them but it was just an announcement.

“I told them it is different to other situations; usually when a manager is in a dressing room and talks like that he got sacked. It isn’t like that because of the things we achieved with each other.

“I think a lot of people from the outside who are not with us will be happy. The distraction comes from outside but to get distracted you need two parts and we will not let it happen.

“If you want we can grow even more together and squeeze everything out of the season.

“There was before no guarantee we would win anything from this season and there is now no guarantee.

“We will fight 100 per cent. I cannot do the job in the future but I can do it very well right now.”

A visibly physically and emotionally drained Klopp could have left in the summer after a season of struggles and a failure to qualify for the Champions League or win a trophy.

However, the German saw it as his duty to rectify the problems within the squad and with clever recruitment he has done that, laying the foundations for his successor.

“We had last year’s situation and I think a lot of managers would have got the sack but there was never any intention (by FSG) to do that,” he added.

“This team is set up for the future. When I said Liverpool 2.0, that didn’t include me for the next 10 years but the team is there, the basis is there.

“Whoever comes in has the chance to play really good football. What we all did in the last years, changing from doubters to believers. It is a wonderful future ahead and that is all I want.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits he is relieved to have finally made the decision to leave the club at the end of the season.

The German’s standing at Anfield meant it was unlikely he would have ever been sacked and, having already extended his contract two years beyond the seven he served at both Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, there would probably have been an expectation on him to go beyond 2026.

Klopp could have gone last summer after being physically and emotionally drained by a difficult season which saw Liverpool finish fifth, but he chose to stay on in order to put things right.

With the club top of the Premier League and fighting on four fronts he has done that in remarkably quick time but even by November, the 56-year-old knew he had to get out.

“The relief was there when I made the decision for myself. I didn’t know that would be the case,” he said.

“Today it (the feeling) is mixed. I am not as emotional as I will be.

“I have to make the decision at one point, because nobody else will, because of the trust and respect we have for each other, and the owners knew I would take the decision.

“I don’t want to hang around and do the job somehow. I thought it through properly.

“I want (to win) everything this season, but it wouldn’t change my mind – and if we don’t win anything it wouldn’t change my mind.

“It’s a decision I made independent of any kind of results.”

In his first press conference as Liverpool boss in 2015 Klopp declared himself the ‘normal one’ and he maintains that is who he is despite his high profile.

He insists he has no regrets about any decisions he has taken at Liverpool, with whom he has won the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup among a host of titles, but admits he has missed out on life away from football.

“I arrived here like a normal guy and I never lived that,” he added.

“It is three or four weeks in a summer which somehow is fine. Whatever will happen in the future, I don’t know now.

“I don’t know how normal life is so I have to find out.”

Klopp plans to take a year off and then see how he feels but has ruled out a return to management in England.

“Whatever will happen in the future I don’t know now, but no club, no country, for the next year, and no other English club ever,” he said.

“I can promise that, even if I have nothing to eat that will not happen.”

Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso has emerged as the early favourite to succeed Klopp.

The former Liverpool midfielder insists his focus was solely on his current role and that he was in “the right place”.

Coventry boss Mark Robins described Sheffield Wednesday fans who booed Kasey Palmer during his side’s FA Cup tie at Hillsborough as “idiots” and “absolute clowns”.

Djeidi Gassama’s late equaliser salvaged Wednesday a fourth-round replay after Danish midfielder Victor Torp had marked his Coventry debut with a stunning first-half opener.

Gassama denied the Sky Blues a second win at Hillsborough inside a week after their 2-1 Championship success on Saturday, which was marred by allegations of racist abuse towards their striker Palmer during the match.

Both clubs condemned the alleged abuse earlier this week and a man was arrested on Thursday, but Palmer was booed on several occasions by a section of home fans and Robins was furious after the tie.

Robins said: “The reaction was a disgrace. People need to have a look at themselves.

“What are they doing? It’s ridiculous. It’s a joke – an absolute joke.”

Palmer, jeered after blazing a first-half chance over the crossbar, was loudly booed after being booked for his challenge on Momo Diaby in the second period and again when substituted in the 63rd minute.

Robins added: “We’re in a game where the players work really hard, they hone their talent and come out to entertain people. It shouldn’t happen.

“Kasey’s a football player with family and wants to play and enjoy his football like everyone else. Then you’ve got these idiots, absolute clowns.”

Wednesday’s Ike Ugbo hit a post and fired narrowly over soon after as his side rallied to level the tie in the second period.

But the home side were indebted to teenage goalkeeper Pierce Charles, who earned his side a replay on his senior debut with a brilliant block to deny Coventry substitute Jamie Allen in the closing stages.

Robins added: “If you can’t win, don’t lose and we will have a right go (in the replay).”

Sheffield Wednesday boss Danny Rohl was pleased his side had halted their slide after back-to-back league defeats and insisted the club had sent out a clear message regarding last week’s racism incident.

When asked if the booing undermined the Owls’ zero-tolerance stance, he said: “It was more important we showed last week, a clear direction from everybody, my team, from the fans, from the club side and I think the statement showed what we think about such situations.

“We cannot accept this, we will not accept this. If we see something or hear something, I think then we have to take responsibility of course. Everybody is involved and has to do something.

“But today for me it was a normal emotional football game, some hard duels about the ball, some reactions and this is football, hopefully the normal football we want.”

Mauricio Pochettino praised Emiliano Martinez after the Aston Villa goalkeeper produced a string of saves to deny his Chelsea side in their goalless FA Cup fourth-round meeting at Stamford Bridge.

Villa are five places and 12 points ahead of Chelsea in the Premier League table but there was little to separate them here, although the hosts will reflect on chances missed in the first half by Noni Madueke and Cole Palmer as a shot at settling the tie slipped away.

Martinez was the decisive actor on both occasions, spreading himself well and blocking in one-on-one situations.

John McGinn had Villa’s best opportunities, first when his clipped effort sailed inches over the bar on the stroke of half-time, then again when he stole in at the near post to meet Nicolo Zaniolo’s cross late on but guided it wide under pressure from Thiago Silva.

It is now three consecutive home games against Villa in which Chelsea have failed to score, as they struggled to capitalise on the momentum of Tuesday’s 6-1 Carabao Cup win over Middlesbrough that set up a final showdown against Liverpool at Wembley next month.

“This type of games are very even,” said Pochettino. “When you face a team like Aston Villa, always it’s difficult. We didn’t score but we created chances. I trust and believe in my players playing this way, we are going to score.

“We came from Tuesday, we scored six so today should be good. But their keeper is an amazing keeper, he’s really good. Sometimes you need some luck to score.”

Chelsea lost defender Levi Colwill to injury during the warm-up, with 20-year-old academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist drafted into the starting XI.

Pochettino confirmed Colwill’s injury is not serious and emphasised his belief in Gilchrist as a capable stand-in.

“It’s not so bad, it’s some small issue that maybe he didn’t feel comfortable,” he said. “We knew before we might not start with him. We hope he will train tomorrow.

“The most difficult thing (for young players) is to manage the stress. (Gilchrist) thought he wasn’t going to play. Sometimes with the young guys, you give the starting XI and they think too much, maybe they can’t sleep. The stress can affect them. But he got half an hour (to prepare), no time to think too much.

“The young players need time to be calm and relaxed, not to spend too much energy thinking on the game. But he was really good. He’s going to grow and be more mature in future.

“He’s showing, and we are giving the opportunity for him to build his career. It’s important for all of the academy players have ability to show they can cope with the pressure of playing for Chelsea. We’ll see if he can reach the level we expect.”

Villa boss Unai Emery reflected on a game in which side impressed with their competitive approach despite the stalemate.

“I have to accept this draw and that we will now play at home and be motivated with our supporters,” he said.

“We are going to be at Villa Park trying to enjoy this, because we showed tonight that we are competitive and we can be contenders as well for this competition.”

Pep Guardiola lauded an unbelievable performance from his Manchester City side after they ended their Tottenham Hotspur Stadium goal drought with a narrow 1-0 away win.

City had failed to score in their previous five trips to Spurs’ home and an FA Cup fourth-round replay looked on the cards when substitute Kevin De Bruyne inexplicably fired wide from 16 yards with eight minutes left.

The breakthrough did finally arrive for the visitors with 88 minutes on the clock when Guglielmo Vicario flapped at De Bruyne’s corner with Ruben Dias in close proximity and Nathan Ake poked home from close range to end the FA Cup holders barren run at Tottenham.

“Deserved it? I think so but football is about scoring, not conceding and the statistics were really good today,” Guardiola explained.

“If you see the stats from the past when we come here, we could not score and could not win.

“Yeah, we are really pleased of course to win against this team away, score a goal and go through. We defend the title and the way we play, we proved we defend it really well.

“Unbelievable. The performance was top, top class. These players prove again the reason why they have done what they have done in the past.”

City had the ball in the net after five minutes but Oscar Bobb was adjudged to be marginally offside after Vicario had thwarted Foden from close range.

Spurs barely had a kick in the first half and while Brennan Johnson was denied by Stefan Ortega at the start of the second period, it proved the hosts’ only shot all match.

Guardiola’s team continued to press for their maiden goal at Tottenham’s stadium and after Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne and substitute Jeremy Doku all failed to make the most of promising situations late on, Ake produced the goods with two minutes left.

It was a dangerous delivery from De Bruyne which caused panic in the Spurs box on only his third appearance since his lengthy lay-off following a serious hamstring injury sustained last season.

Asked if De Bruyne was fit enough to start, Guardiola said: “He is ready. Ready to play.

“Sooner or later he will play from the beginning, but it’s not just about that. For many reasons we want to protect him and Kevin, today I always knew he was going to create.

“These type of games at the end, it was a little bit more open and we had that feeling. It is important he feels good after his hamstring problem and he made an exceptional corner in the right spot. We knew it, so yeah it’s really good.”

Guardiola also reflected on the news on Friday morning that great rival Jurgen Klopp will leave Liverpool at the end of the season and dispelled any talk that he could follow suit.

“I am fine. Still one more year I want to do it and maybe extend (past 2025), so I am fine,” Guardiola insisted.

Meanwhile, opposite number Ange Postecoglou cut a frustrated figure after Spurs exited the FA Cup following a lacklustre display, which will all but ensure the club’s trophy drought will extend into a 17th year.

Postecoglou admitted: “We fought hard to stay in the game but to be honest that’s all we did, we stayed in the game.

“They’re a top team. They’re the benchmark. We’re not there yet and we’re under no illusion about that.

“I just felt that all of the second half was ok, the first half we were just too passive in a lot of our play and allowed them to get a rhythm.”

Nuno Espirito Santo believes Nottingham Forest have taken a “big step” after a goalless FA Cup draw at Bristol City produced the first clean sheet of his City Ground reign.

Forest must fit a fourth-round replay into their busy schedule after drawing 0-0 with the mid-table Sky Bet Championship side at Ashton Gate.

But boss Nuno focused on the positives after a first clean sheet in his seven games at Forest, saying: “It was a good performance with two different parts.

“The first half was not so good, the second half much better. First half we did not control our pressure, we allowed too many balls inside and they created some problems for us.

“Second half we controlled the game, we dominated and did not allow chances.

“So that’s a big step for us to have a clean sheet. Something we are constantly looking for.

“We created chances in the second half but could not finish. So let’s now go for the second leg because Bristol City is a good team.”

Forest return to Premier League action at home to Arsenal on Tuesday, in 16th place and just four points above the relegation zone.

In what had been a hectic start since replacing Steve Cooper last month, Nuno had seen his Forest side score 14 goals and concede 11 in six games.

“This will definitely help us,” said the Portuguese. “Since we arrived we have not been able to keep a clean sheet.

“Conceding goals is something that has caused too many problems for us. Every game we score two or three goals, but we are conceding too much.

“I told the boys this is our first objective in the game, defend well and keep clean sheets because we have quality and talent to solve the game.

“As a team we must always look to defend well, be compact and not allow chances.”

Bristol City had beaten West Ham in a third-round replay and Ashton Gate was packed to the rafters again in the hope of witnessing another upset.

Forest had the only two attempts on target but there was no lack of endeavour from the Robins – who are 13th in the Championship – and they did cause moments of danger.

City head coach Liam Manning said: “The lads are actually quite frustrated in the changing room, a little bit disappointed.

“I get that and I quite like that, because the intensity, the competitiveness and the bravery we showed – especially in the first half – I thought was excellent.

“We missed a bit of composure around the box, that bit of conviction and cool head you need.

“But it’s another experience ticked off with a lot of positives.

“We’ve got another game now, but it’s a great opportunity and great experience to go up there and test ourselves again.”

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