Liverpool prepared FA Cup semi-final game with Man City
SOCCER: Liverpool and Manchester City are set to meet in next month’s FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley after ending their last eight ties in different ways yesterday (20 March).
Phil Foden (left) scored an emphatic third goal for Manchester City to put the tie out of reach for Southampton. Photo: AFP
City eventually defeated Southampton in a 4-1 win on their third try of the season, while Liverpool needed a late strike from Diogo Jota to defeat Championship side Nottingham Forest 1-0.
Forest had knocked out defending champions Leicester and Arsenal on their run to the last eight and could easily have caused another shock had the fine margins at the City Ground gone their way.
“It was a real cup game,” said Klopp. “I know they don’t get anything for it, but kudos to them, they put on a really good game.”
Klopp made seven changes with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Andy Robertson among those rested and it showed in a ragged performance at Liverpool.
Roberto Firmino should have put the Reds ahead before the break when he tried to smack the ball over Ethan Horvath with just the keeper but it was Forest who had the better chances after the break.
Philip Zinkernagel missed the best of them with 14 minutes to go when he missed an inviting cross from Brennan Johnson.
Three minutes later, Jota showed the Forest striker how it’s done as he stretched to find Kostas Tsimikas’ cross for his 19th goal of the season.
Still, the home side could have taken the game into overtime when Ryan Yates headed straight into Alisson Becker’s arms and a penalty appeal was denied as he rounded the Brazilian goalkeeper.
But Liverpool were adamant on arranging a meeting with City when a side’s search for history will come to an end.
Quadruple v treble
City are aiming to match Manchester United’s historic 1998/99 performance of winning the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup treble, while Liverpool, who are just a point behind Pep Guardiola at the top of the table, are aiming for another better by adding these three trophies to the League Cup they won in February.
Despite a more resounding result, City also struggled in the opening hour at St Mary’s as a Southampton side who had beaten the English champions twice this season gave them trouble again.
“We started very well and then forgot to play,” said Guardiola. “We know it’s so difficult because Southampton are one of the most organized teams.”
Adam Armstrong hit the post early for the Saints, but just seconds later Raheem Sterling opened the scoring with a cool finish from a Gabriel Jesus pass.
Ilkay Gundogan then hit the woodwork for City but Southampton earned the deserved first-half equalizer when Aymeric Laporte deflected a Mohamed Elyounoussi cross into his own net.
With a finely balanced draw, Southampton’s good work was undone when Mohammed Salisu unnecessarily dipped at Jesus to concede a penalty.
Fraser Forster handed a penalty from Kevin De Bruyne but was unable to save it.
City’s strength off the bench then took the game away from the hosts as substitutes Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez scored fatal goals to round out the goal.
Advances in Vieira’s Palace
Crystal Palace meet Chelsea in the other semi-final after beating the struggling Everton 4-0 at Selhurst Park.
Marc Guehi, Jean-Philippe Mateta, Wilfried Zaha and Will Hughes scored as the Eagles continued their impressive first season under Patrick Vieira.
“Going to Wembley is fantastic,” said Vieira.
“You can hear the atmosphere in the stadium, the fans; they wanted it and we wanted to give it to them.”
Everton are now focused on staying only in the Premier League as they sit dangerously just above the relegation zone.
“We gave them a free pass to the semi-finals without Palace playing particularly well,” said Everton boss Frank Lampard.
Chelsea beat Middlesborough 2-0 in the remaining quarter-finals on Saturday.