A big second half, including contributions from Luis Diaz and Harvey Elliott, saw Liverpool advance to the next round.
With much of the Liverpool squad getting extended time off during the international break, Jurgen Klopp put out a strong side against Cardiff City. Despite having many regular starters in the side, Liverpool struggled get good shots off for much of the first half. The second half was a different story, however, as the Reds broke through from a familiar source in Diogo Jota. The introduction of Harvey Elliott and Luis Diaz put the attack into another gear, and both were involved in the second and third goals as Liverpool eased themselves to a fairly comfortable win in the end.
Let’s take a look at some of the winners, losers, and other narratives around the game.
The Return of The Child
Oh. My. God.
A thing of beauty from Harvey Elliott pic.twitter.com/Ub9YgkYIBo
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 6, 2022
I mean, seriously. After Elliott had his ankle dislocated and fractured against Leeds, no one was sure whether he would be able to return this season, and even if he did, how sharp he would be after such a major injury. Well, the youngster announced his return as a second half sub with a sensational goal. Outside of the goal itself, Harvey looked really good, showing sharp cuts, great vision and passing range. He’s only 18, and has only played five times for the club, but it is hard not to get overly hyped for the return of The Child!
It’s been a whirlwind week for Diaz, who signed for Liverpool while on international duty, arrived at the club for the first time on Thursday, and then was given his debut as a substitute in the FA Cup. Diaz made his presence known with a great high press to win the ball back on the end line, then showed great balance and quick feet to beat a player and set up a goal. He may not officially be given credit for the assist, but it was his hard work that made the goal happen. There will likely be a bedding in time for the player so newly arrived, but it was great to see him showcase some of the skills that had fans excited about his signing!
Welcome to Anfield, @LuisFDiaz19
Some tidy footwork as he puts it on a plate for @takumina0116, who makes no mistake #EmiratesFACup pic.twitter.com/ml5RAywrHB
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) February 6, 2022
Diogo Jota isn’t always involved, but boy does he know how get into good spots and finish. He had a sensational turn in the first half in the box to almost open the scoring early, and then finished off a trademark header over a taller defender in the second half to finally break the deadlock. It was his 15th goal of the season for Liverpool in all competitions.
Takumi’s Magic of the Cup
Takumi Minamino has struggled to get regular minutes in the Premier League, but he has owned the cup competitions this season. The Japanese forward scored his fifth goal in cup matches this season in six matches with an emphatic strike after great work from Luis Diaz.
Yet again, Liverpool had assists from both fullbacks. Trent Alexander-Arnold put the ball onto the head of Diogo Jota to record his 15th assist of the season. It’s the third time in his career already that Trent has hit the 15 assists mark.
Andy Robertson also got in on the action, sending the ball across to Harvey Elliot for Liverpool’s third goal. It was Robbo’s 10th assist of the season. It should also be noted that Kostas Tsimikas, who started at left back, was unlucky not to have an assist to his name, assisting three shots for players in great spots in the first half.
The young midfielder does a lot of good work with his ball progression, but he seems to be regressing when it comes to decision making in the final third. Jones at times slowed things down too much when around the box, holding into the ball a touch or two longer than he should, ending up in a cul-de-sac of defenders. He also made some poor decisions on when to shoot, taking two of his three shots from well outside the box, and sending all of his opportunities well over the crossbar. With the return of Harvey Elliott, Thiago, and Naby Keita, Jones will struggle to find minutes for the rest of the season unless he can show better decision making.
Kelleher has been stellar when given the chance this season, but he had a moment of madness that almost changed the complexion of the game. Kelleher, much like Alisson, has always been aggressive coming well out of his goal to clear danger behind Liverpool’s high defensive line. He absolutely whiffed on a sliding challenge when trying to break up a counter, and took out the player instead. Thankfully Konaté was also behind the ball to avoid a red card for a denial of a goal scoring opportunity, but it was tight.
From the Manager
“I can imagine his dad was in the stands and for sure had a little breakdown. It was just nice.”
-Jürgen Klopp on Harvey Elliott’s goal
What Happens Next
Liverpool advance to the fifth round of the FA Cup, where they will host Norwich City on March 2nd. The Reds will return to league play on Thursday when they will host Brendan Rodgers and Leicester City.