Liverpool drew 0-0 with Blackburn in the FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday, in what was a frustrating afternoon at Anfield.
Liverpool 0-0 Blackburn
FA Cup – Anfield – Sunday, 8th March 2015
Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the side that beat Burnley 2-0 at Anfield on Wednesday. Glen Johnson came in for Joe Allen, who was missing through injury, while Lazar Markovic replaced Alberto Moreno at wing-back.
That meant Emre Can had a rare start in the centre of midfield, with Johnson occupying the German’s right-sided centre-back role. Could the Reds make it to the semi-final stage of English football’s most famous competition?
Martin Skrtel had a horribly awkward fall early on, and after an eight-minute stoppage, he was replaced by Kolo Toure.
Liverpool struggled to dictate the game following that incident, and Blackburn were both tough to break down and threatening on the break.
Philippe Coutinho bent a shot over the crossbar after 30 minutes, in what was the Reds’ first real effort of note, while Craig Conway fired over at the other end. Toure had a close-range effort correctly ruled out for offside.
Markovic and Daniel Sturridge both tested Blackburn goalkeeper Simon Eastwood before the break, and they were the final moments of note in what was a below-par first-half performance by Liverpool.
There were no changes at the interval, as Rodgers’ men looked to kick on and improve on their opening 45-minute showing.
Simon Mignolet produced a fantastic save from Alex Baptiste’s header, as Gary Bowyer’s side made an excellent start to the second-half.
Sturridge could easily have won a penalty when Matt Kilgallon impeded him with an arm, but Andre Marriner waved away the appeals.
Mario Balotelli replaced Markovic after 59 minutes, and seconds later Toure headed the ball against the post. Balotelli and Sturridge both fired wild shots into the Anfield Road end, as the home crowd grew increasingly tense.
Jordan Henderson forced Eastwood into a very fine stop with eight minutes remaining and Sterling headed wide, as the Reds desperately looked for a winner.
That precious winning goal simply didn’t arrive though, and Liverpool must now go to Ewood Park for a replay. It was a deeply frustrating game, but credit must go to Blackburn for their performance on the day.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Can, Skrtel (Toure 11), Lovren, Johnson, Markovic (Balotelli 59), Henderson, Lallana, Coutinho, Sterling, Sturridge.
Subs not used: Ward, Lambert, Moreno, Sakho, Williams.
Blackburn starting XI: Eastwood, Henley, Baptiste, Kilgallon, Olsson, Marshall, Evans, Williamson, Conway, Cairney, Gestede.
Referee: Andre Marriner