It was not a vintage display but it took us to Wembley and kept hopes of a trophy intact. Liverpool ´s 1-0 win away to Blackburn in the FA Cup sixth round replay was spiced with both luck and magic. Now we can look forward to a Wembley semifinal showpiece versus Aston Villa on Sunday April 19.
The magic came from our own wizard Philippe Coutinho who once more hit the winner this spring. He has created a pleasant habit of putting the ball in the net giving us the final edge. Same story yesterday when he combined smartly with Jordan Henderson before smashing home from an acute angle in the 71st minute. It looked easy but was anything but. Our playmaker made it look like shooting practise in a training session. He knew early how to shoot and converted expertly.
Luck played it´s part in the closing stages when the Blackburn goalkeeper Simon Eastwood had a glorious chance to score after a corner but shot straight at Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet. The right Simon won that duel. Simon says.
On the whole Liverpool dominated the game and could and should have won a bit bigger. But it doesn´t matter, the Reds made it to the semifinal, despite a few hiccups.
Play-wise we must up our game if we are to progress to the final. Defensively we were a bit vulnerable at times even if Blackburn seldom put us to the test. Our attacking creativity has waned lately and it´s necessary to speed up the passing to make it easier to open up opposing defences. Right now Liverpool is playing too slow and particularly in the first halfs.
When Martin Skrtel and Emre Can returns then defence will be meaner and Adam Lallana can make the attack more inventive. If the squad can stay injury-free for the rest of the season then a trophy might be heading to Anfield. But we have to go down to Anfield South (Wembley) and pick it up.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 6th round replay (quarterfinal) of the FA Cup (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 7.
Dominated in the air and made at least three great saves, one matchwinning one at the death.
RB Glen Johnson 6.
Strong defensive display and pretty good going forward.
CB Mamadou Sakho 2.
A couple of odd decisions almost gave Blackburn a goal. Injured early on.
CB Dejan Lovren 5.
Won everything in the air and cleared the ball well. Distribution not up to par.
LB Alberto Moreno 3.
Had little trouble defensively but didn´t contribute so much attack-wise.
DM Lucas Leiva 4.
Did his defensive job but not so much more.
RM Jordan Henderson 4.
Appeared to be uncomfortable on the right and missed some easy passes. Nice pass for the goal, though.
LM Joe Allen 3.
Couldn´t stamp his authority on the game. Weak in duels.
RF Philippe Coutinho 6.
Started slowly but grew into the match. Created chances and hit the matchwinning goal.
CF Daniel Sturridge 2.
Bad first touch let him down constantly and he wasn´t sharp enough when chances came his way.
LF Raheem Sterling 5.
Troubled the home defence throughout with his speed but his shooting was awful.
CB Kolo Toure 6. (Replaced Mamadou Sakho after 28 mins).
Not a single mistake after coming on and even saved the day with perfect tackles and blocks.
CF Rickie Lambert 1. (Replaced Daniel Sturridge after 85 mins).
Too little time to make a mark. Missed a header which should have hit the target.
Liverpool is back at Wembley after a three years absence and hopefully we can make the most of it beating Aston Villa in the semifinal and then Arsenal or Reading in the final. Silverware is long overdue and therefore:
We Go Again.