Harvey Elliott scored his first goal for Liverpool on his long-awaited return to action as Liverpool progressed to the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 3-1 win over Cardiff.
Liverpool 3-1 Cardiff
FA Cup Fourth Round, Anfield
February 6, 2022
Diogo Jota 53′ (assist: Alexander-Arnold)
Takumi Minamino 68′ (assist: Diaz)
Harvey Elliott 76′ (assist: Robertson)
With one Wembley berth secured, the chance to take one step closer to another with Norwich awaiting in the next round presented itself in a rare early afternoon start.
Jurgen Klopp could afford to name a side boasting regular senior faces with Thiago, Harvey Elliott and new signing Luis Diaz all making up an impressive-looking substitutes bench.
The Reds enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, as one would expect, with Diogo Jota denied early by Dillon Phillips, to stop what was a sumptuous move between the No. 20 and Naby Keita.
But the fifth-minute chance aside there were plenty of cobwebs to blow out after a two-week break, the travelling Cardiff fans could attest to that having needed to catch one too many overhit balls.
Jones and Keita tried their luck as too Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson but the gloves of Phillips remained largely for collecting the ball for a goal kick.
Riveting would not be the word synonymous with the opening 45 minutes.
Half time: Liverpool 0-0 Cardiff
- Jota nets 15th goal of the season
- Elliott scores first LFC goal after 147 days out of action
- Luis Diaz notched an assist on debut
- Reds through to FA Cup fifth round for only second time under Klopp
But Caoimhin Kelleher elevated the heart rate early in the second half having missed the ball and collected Mark Harris, with Ibrahima Konate‘s covering run saving his ‘keeper from a red card.
While not the jolt one would have asked for, it woke the Reds up with the opener arriving just seven minutes off the head of the man in form, Jota.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was the man to deliver from the dead ball, with Jota in place to head home his 15th goal of the season into the bottom corner. 1-0 to Liverpool.
Obviously saving all the excitement for playing toward the Kop end, Elliott AND Diaz both entered the fray to shuffle the pack just before the hour mark.
And the new No. 23 did not waste long in having an influence, pressing high and showing off his sublime close control on the by-line, with his lay up for Jota instead teeing up Takumi Minamino for 2-0.
Not to be outdone, Elliott joined the party with a stunning volley on the swivel, notching his first goal for the club in style much to the delight of his manager, teammates and fans.
Thiago‘s return added to the positive afternoon vibes, and with Liverpool – James Milner in particular – in a giving mood, Cardiff did land a consolation goal on the break.
The victory sees Liverpool reach the fifth round of the FA Cup for only the second time under Klopp, with Norwich to make the trip to Anfield at the start of March.
TIA Man of the Match: Diogo Jota
Referee: Andrew Madley
Liverpool: Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas (Robertson 70′); Henderson (Thiago 78′), Keita (Elliott 57′), Jones (Diaz 57′); Minamino (Milner 69′), Jota, Firmino
Subs not used: Adrian, Matip, Morton, Gordon
Cardiff: Phillips; Flint, McGuiness, Denham; Ng (Semenyo 90+3′), Vaulks (Doyle 69′), King (Colwill 69′), Pack, Bagan; Harris (Davies 58′), Collins (Hugill 58′)
Subs not used: Smithies, Bacuna, Wintle, Bowen
Next Match: Leicester (H) – Premier League – Thursday, February 10, 7.45pm (GMT)