Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea are through to the last eight of the FA Cup after a resounding win over Liverpool at a packed and happy Stamford Bridge.
An early strike from Willian and a second-half piledriver from Ross Barkley sent the Reds back north with a second defeat in four days.
Jurgen Klopp looked bemused as the Reds came into the game having just lost their unbeaten league record after a stunning 3-0 defeat away to Watford, and I’m sure he expected a reaction.
The FA Cup 2020 prediction had Liverpool second favourite to Manchester City to lift the trophy, but that’s been and gone and now Chelsea will fancy their chances.
The big pre-match news was the return of Kepa in Chelsea’s goal as one of six changes for the Blues, while only Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson, Fabinho and Sadio Mane kept their places for Liverpool.
But team selections worked wonders for the hosts. It’s the third defeat in four for the Reds and dreams of a treble have gone, but for Frank Lampard’s Blues, it was a famous FA Cup night.
Highlights of the game
Liverpool came under some criticism for their demeanour in the defeat at Watford but in the opening exchanges, they were right up for this game.
They had early encouragement from Chelsea, who gave the ball away twice in dangerous positions. On the second occasion, Sadio Mane had the opening shot on goal but it was straight at Kepa.
The Blues woke up and came very close to an opener when Cesar Azpilicueta flicked on a corner which just needed a touch before flying agonisingly wide.
We had a game on!
Ross Barkley stung Adrian’s hands with a rasping drive, and then after a smart move, Willian brought a brilliant save from the Liverpool keeper. But when the goal came, Klopp will have been anything but amused.
Just 30 seconds after that super save, Liverpool gave the ball away trying to play out from the back. This time, when Willian fired a bullet straight at Adrian, he spilt it into the net. Take a look at the FA Cup 2020 highlights, the poor Liverpool stopper went from hero to zero in the blink of an eye.
At the other end, in an almighty scramble, the recalled Kepa made a spectacular triple save to keep the scores level.
The game continued at a frantic pace in the second half and when Mason Mount was felled on the edge of the box by Fabinho, Chelsea had another opportunity. Mount himself took a superb free-kick and watched it crash back off the crossbar.
Then, on 63 minutes, Everton fan Barkley doubled the lead in spectacular fashion. The Blues midfielder made a driving run from his own half before smashing the ball past Adrian from 20 yards.
Pedro made a similar run from deep minutes later and was clean through on goal, but he appeared to run out of steam and shot straight at Adrian. Then, it was Olivier Giroud’s turn to come close, but Adrian made a fingertip save to divert his effort onto the bar.
Chelsea have been shot shy at times this season, but tonight Liverpool didn’t know what hit them!
The Blues were fantastic value and sent their fans home happy.
The Blues had won just one of their last six home games against Liverpool, so this was sweet indeed. The last time these two met in the FA Cup was the 2012 final, which Chelsea won 2-1.
And this is still the furthest Liverpool have reached in the FA Cup under Klopp; they last made it to the fifth round in 2015.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola goaded Liverpool after his side won the EFL Cup on Sunday, saying that winning the league is just one trophy, and his side has won eight of the last 11 domestic competitions.
But Klopp won’t let his players worry about anything Pep says and they’ll be fully focussed at home to Bournemouth on Saturday as they hone in on a first league title in 30 years.
Then, they chase another trophy – one they already hold – as they look to overturn a one-goal deficit in their Champions League second leg at home to Atletico Madrid.
Meanwhile, Frank Lampard’s Blues continue their quest to hold onto a top-four place with a crunch game at home to Everton, before heading to the West Midlands to face strugglers Aston Villa.
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