So much for the killer Bs. After Bolton and Bristol City had won FA Cup replays at Anfield in the last two seasons Liverpool survived another attack of alphabetical implications last night when they progressed more comfortably than the scoreline suggeststo meet Wimbledon in the fifth round.
Not that the tie was without a sting in the tail. Liverpool's Neil Ruddock was sent off with nine minutes remaining after fouling Liam Robinson when the Burnley striker had a clear run on goal, while the visitors' Ted McMinn was also shown the red card after the final whistle for "foul and abusive language" aimed at a linesman.
It was an unhappy end to a match that, if anything, lacked the normal fire and brimstone associated with replays. Burnley worked ferociously but were bedevilled by the flaw that has them struggling in the First Division, a lack of attacking thrust.
As a consequence John Barnes' 45th-minute goal, a powerful header from eight yards after Stig Inge Bjornebye's corner on the left, always seemed likely to settle the tie.
Indeed Liverpool could have had several more goals, Steve McManaman hitting a post and Robbie Fowler missing several opportunities. "We contrived to make it difficult for ourselves," Roy Evans, the Liverpool manager, said. "We overdid everything. We teach the players to pass but there has to be a point to the passing. We had enough of the ball to win several matches."
Burnley had grounds for believing they were the better side in the first meeting between the teams, and there was nothing in the opening exchanges to discourage them.
Gerry Harrison had David James rushing to his right-hand post to deal with a low drive after 40 seconds, while John Mullin was even closer with a 16th-minute header from Gary Parkinson's free-kick on the left that skimmed the home bar.
Liverpool began to assert themselves as the match progressed, however, and would have put the tie beyond doubt long before Barnes' goal if they had not tended to over-elaborate on the edge of the area.
Bjornebye and McManaman repeatedly made inroads down the left but the final pass did not match the build-up, so it was both in keeping and a surprise that they played principal parts in the goal. McManaman's twisting, teasing run into the area yielded a corner and this time Bjornebye's delivery was perfect. "It was a great goal that didn't fit the game," Evans said.
Ahead, Liverpool could allow Burnley to overstretch themselves and attack on the break, and Fowler alone could have scored three times before Ruddock spread home alarm by getting dismissed.
The England centre-back was betrayed by a bobble on an unpredictable pitch, and as he struggled to regain control Robinson stole the ball and hared for goal. His progress was halted by a trip, however, leaving the referee with little option but to brandish a red card.
"It's a shame," Jimmy Mullen, the Burnley manager, said. "It's a poor reward for such a good opportunity. Robinson would have scored. I'd put my house on it."
Liverpool's reward is a chance to avenge their upset by Wimbledon in the 1988 final, the only occasion the clubs have met in the Cup.
Liverpool: (5-3-2): James; R Jones, Scales, Ruddock, Babb, Bjornebye (Walters, 65); McManaman, Thomas, Barnes; Fowler, Rush. Substitutes not used: Clough, Stensgaard (gk).
Burnley: (5-3-2): Beresford; Parkinson, Davis, Hoyland (Peel, 75), Winstanley, Eyers; Arthur, Randall, Harrison (McMinn, 65); Mullin, Robinson. Substitutes not used: Russell (gk).
Referee: K Morton (Bury St Edmunds).