Liverpool's top-class XI that went 2-1 down at Anfield against sixth-tier FA Cup minnows

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Liverpool survived a potential FA Cup upset against Aston Villa on Friday night.

That statement alone would have looked strange a few days ago because the phrase 'FA Cup upset' is often reserved for lower-league clubs scoring an unexpected win over Premier League sides.

However, despite Villa's place in England's top-flight, they entered their third-round tie with the champions in the midst of a terrible COVID-19 outbreak that swept through their first-team.

Aston Villa 1-4 Liverpool

As a result, the Villans were forced to field a side comprised of seven U23 and four U18 players, which ultimately saw them dumped out of the competition in a 4-1 defeat.

But don't take the final score at face value because Villa's youthful side did themselves proud with a battling performance that even saw them drawing for 20 minutes due to Louie Barry's equaliser.

And while, yes, there was to be no fairytale giant-killing for their efforts, it was still a heroic display that got us thinking about another occasion where Liverpool flirted with FA Cup humiliation.

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Liverpool 5-2 Havant & Waterlooville

Cast your mind back to 2008 when Liverpool lined up for the unlikeliest of fourth-round clashes against Havant & Waterlooville, who played in the National League South, English football's sixth tier.

It was one of those bizarre draws that remind us all why the FA Cup is one of the most unique competitions in the beautiful game, pitting a European giant against part-time underdogs.

In the end, just like the Villa result, the final score was convincing on paper with Liverpool running away 5-2 victors at Anfield, but there was no shortage of dicey moments for the Reds.

In fact, rather astonishingly, Liverpool found themselves losing to the sixth-division side on no fewer than two occasions with Havant & Waterlooville racing into 1-0 and 2-1 advantages.

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Liverpool's FA Cup XI

Richard Pacquette defied the odds to fire the non-league outfit into the lead and an own goal cancelled out Liverpool's equaliser, before the Reds finally came back from behind to win.

It's pretty crazy that a team who had reached two out of the last three Champions League finals would find themselves fighting back against a team five tiers below them twice in a row.

So, who were the guilty Liverpool stars involved in the carnage? Well, some of their best players actually with Rafael Benitez playing a largely top-class XI that you can check out down below:

GK - Charles Itandje

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RB - Steve Finnan

CB - Sami Hyypiä

CB - Martin Škrtel

LB - John Arne Riise

RM - Jermaine Pennant

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CM - Javier Mascherano

CM - Lucas Leiva

LM - Yossi Benayoun

ST - Peter Crouch

ST - Ryan Babel

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Used substitutes: Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt

How did they fall behind twice!?

Ok, yes, it's not the strongest Liverpool XI that Benitez could have fielded, but remember for a second that six of the players involved had started the 2007 Champions League final.

Gerrard is one of the greatest midfielders in football history; Hyypiä is a bonafide Liverpool legend and Mascherano essentially won every trophy on the sun once he moved to Barcelona.

Even Itandje, who is arguably the weakest player in the line-up, went on to represent his nation at the World Cup, so you can't underestimate the gravity of Havant & Waterlooville's achievement.

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Nevertheless, despite the fairytale nature of their two goals in front of the Kop, strikes from Lucas, Crouch and a Benayoun hat-trick ensured that giant-killing of historic proportions was adverted.

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