Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0
FA Cup 5th round
Chelsea dumped Liverpool out of the FA Cup with goals in either half ensuring that they went into the hat for the quarter-finals. Willian’s strike in the 13th minute following a howler from Adrian in the Liverpool goal set the tone for a match in which both sides contributed to in an FA Cup classic under the lights. Chelsea shone even brighter when former Everton midfielder Ross Barkley ran from deep in his own half before thumping low past Adrian to double Chelsea’s lead. The night however belonged to 18 year old Chelsea newcomer Billy Gilmour who produced a mature, combative and intelligent display at Stamford Bridge, the new midfield engine which drove Chelsea on.
Willian set Chelsea on their way after Reds’ goalkeeper Adrian’s howler
For much of the season, Liverpool have exuded an air of brilliance, playing the kind of football which has given them an unassailable lead at the Premier League summit. Results however have not been as kind of late, the Reds have lost three from their last four games in all competitions and that has many now questioning their momentum.
The opening looked good for the Reds when both Chelsea centre backs Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zuma began nervously with errors which went unpunished. Chelsea’s first assault on Adrian’s goal came from a dangerous Pedro cross, which Virgil Van Dijk had to clear. The defensive duties then fell to Neco Williams mopping up after Barkley’s 60 yard cross to Pedro caused more problems for the Reds defence. The resultant corner from Willian was met by Cesar Azpilicueta’s near post flick on, but agonisingly for Chelsea, Rudgier couldn’t get to what would have been a tap in.
Barkley charged from deep in his own half to double the Blues’ lead
Liverpool gathered their thoughts and saw Divock Origi’s dangerous cross from the left flash just out of Mane’s reach as the game swung from end to end. Barkley tested Adrian from 25 yards which Liverpool’s goalkeeper punched clear. Chelsea took the lead after 13minutes in a quickfire period where we saw the good, immediately followed by the bad from Adrian.
Chelsea worked the ball to Pedro whose pass from the left was dummied by Barkley creating the chance for Willian to pull the trigger. It looked a goal from the moment the ball left his boot from ten yards out on the right, but amazingly Adrian made a good reflex save. Less than a minute later however when Fabinho got caught trying to play out, Willian took possession and struck from twelve yards out. Adrian was behind the ball all the way, however it hit his midriff before flying past him for the game’s opener.
Gilmour’s combative style had Stamford Bridge in awe
Making his FA Cup debut 18 year old Gilmour was having an effective opening half. Despite his diminutive stature, the Scotland midfielder wasn’t afraid to get physical. Some intelligent mature play out from defence had the Chelsea fans applauding their new find. When Gilmour was fouled on the edge of the Reds area, Alonso’s resultant free kick flew just over Adrian’s bar.
Liverpool were unable to capitalise from a quartet of chances to level. Takumi Minamino saw his shot blocked, then Kepa saved from Curtis Jones, Sadio Mane and Origi in a pinball machine of follow ups. On the half hour mark, Mane cut in from the left, but saw Kepa save his effort, while Jones was unable to hit the target with the follow up.
On the hour mark, Stamford Bridge saluted their new hero. Gilmour stopped Mane in his tracks and the Mathew Harding End responded with, “One Billy Gilmour, there’s only one Billy Gilmour ! ”
Happy. Gilmour announced his arrival at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea’s second half pressure continued unabated. Fabinho endured a difficult game, and his hand ball saw Mason Mount hit the bar from the resultant free kick.
On 64 minutes Barkley scored one of the FA Cup’s goals of the season. The former Toffee picked up ball from deep in his own half, and while Giroud and Van Dijk clashed, Barkley raced away with Pedro to his right. Liverpool’s defence backed off leaving Barkley to strike firmly to Adrian’s right from 20 yards for Chelsea’s second. Two minutes later, Pedro on a fast counter attack could have gotten Chelsea a third. Chased by Joe Gomez and Williams, Adrian blocked Pedro’s low shot with his legs.
Misfiring Reds have now lost three of their last four games
The Blues onslaught continued. Azpilicueta’s long ball over the top found Giroud. With Gomez close in attendance the France forward struck his shot firmly, but a fingertips save onto his upright by Adrain kept the deficit to two goals.
Two minutes from time and Chelsea were continuing in relentless mood. Jorginho played in Mount in space on the left. From a narrowing angle he hit high when Giroud was available for what would have been a tap in. As the clock ran down on Liverpool’s FA Cup campaign, there was still time for more skill from Chelsea’s new talent. With a neat trick on Fabinho, Gilmour played in Giroud for a shot which deflected off Gomez for a corner.
Liverpool finished with Robert Firmino Mohamed Salah and James Milner from their substitutes bench but Chelsea were not to be beaten on a night when Gilmour announced his arrival to an adoring public.