An impressive second-half saw Liverpool ease themselves into the next round of the FA Cup, and there were a couple of eye-catching performances off the bench.
Liverpool 3-1 Cardiff
FA Cup Fourth Round, Anfield
February 6, 2022
Goals: Jota 53′, Minamino 68′, Elliott 76′; Colwill 80′.
Caioimhin Kelleher – 6 (out of 10)
There was a worrying moment when he came out to clear the ball early in the first but ended up missing the ball and fouling Cardiff forward Mark Harris. Luckily, VAR decided it wasn’t a red card as Konate was covering.
Had to deal with the taunts of the Cardiff fans behind his goal after that, but looked more assured from then on despite that added pressure.
The next time he left his area he headed clear in more convincing fashion.
He was eventually beaten by Rubin Colwill’s consolation strike, but all in all it was probably another net positive performance for the impressive young Irishman.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7
His first accurate cross of the game led to the opening goal, firing the ball in from the right onto the head of Jota.
Had lack accuracy prior to this and had two chances to test Cardiff goalkeeper Dillan Phillips from free-kicks, but one hit the wall and the other flew over the bar and into the stands.
But was on hand to make the difference
Ibrahima Konate – 6
Turned too easily by Mark Harris who then tried to win a penalty. Not the most convincing moment from the centre-back but still not a penalty.
Might also have been quicker across ahead of Harris for the incident with Kelleher.
Wasn’t pressured much on the ball and used this time to make a couple of useful passes forward.
Virgil van Dijk – 7
Doesn’t seem to ever get into top gear but nevertheless dealt with numerous threats that came his way.
Always looks composed and unruffled, and was Liverpool’s leader from the back, completing 94% of his passes, including 9/11 long balls. Also had more touches than any other player on the pitch.
Kostas Tsimikas – 7
Always available down the left and regularly puts in dangerous crosses. One cross from a corner almost led to the second goal but Jota volleyed wide.
Is a more than adequate replacement for Robertson who replaced him later in the second half.
Jordan Henderson – 6
Regularly involved and kept things ticking over with mostly short and simple passing. Not really much else, in his less comfortable, deeper role in midfield.
Naby Keita – 6
Worked well in defence and was a reliable option in midfield. His short forward passes instigated two good chances in the first half, first for Jota and then starting the move that lead to a chance for Jones.
Sent a couple of speculative shots well off target but the ideas and the intentions were certainly presence even if the execution, in those shots especially, was sometimes lacking.
Curtis Jones – 6
Operated in a role somewhere between left midfield and left wing, and though he showed some nice touches and moments, he wasn’t able to influence the game as he is capable of doing.
Skied a good chance over the bar in the first half, and was eventually replaced by new signing Diaz.
Takumi Minamino – 8
A nice bit of play down the right, linking up with Jota, created a good chance for Jones, and a dribble infield shortly after produced a similar outcome.
Netted the second to put the tie to bed following good work from Diaz.
Has been a very useful squad member during these cup runs, and may still be key if Liverpool are to lift one of them this season.
Diogo Jota – 8
Found space in the area early on. A good turn and shot in the opening minutes wasn’t matched by the quality of the finish, though in fairness it was a good save from Dillan Phillips.
Headed wide from a Tsimikas cross, but was always in good positions expected of a striker.
This eventually paid off when he was in the right place to head home from Trent’s free kick.
Roberto Firmino – 7
Some neat linkup play and nice bits of skill to entertain the crowd in a fairly unentertaining first half.
Showed his versatility and importance by dropping into midfield for a ten minute period in the second half, in a role similar to the one Jones had been playing. Doesn’t look out of place there, either.
Harvey Elliott (on for Keita, 58′) – 8 – Man of the Match
Immediately lively, entertaining the crowd but more importantly was effective in unsettling the opposition.
Made this work count scoring the third goal, finishing well from Robertson’s cross.
Luis Diaz (on for Jones, 58′) – 7
Took advantage of a lapse in concentration in the Cardiff defence to set up the goal for Minamino. Exciting, ideal cameo.
James Milner (on for Minamino, 69′) – 6
Was caught out by a loose pass in the build up to the Cardiff goal, but generally replaced what Henderson had been doing.
Andy Robertson (on for Tsimikas, 70′) – 7
Set up the goal for Elliott with a cross from the left.
Thiago (on for Henderson, 78′) – 6 –
Subs not used: Adrian, Joel Matip, Kaide Gordon, Tyler Morton.
Jurgen Klopp – 8
Klopp will have been pleased with this afternoon’s work as he saw his side progress to the next round with minimal fuss in the end.
He balanced his team selection well, choosing to go with senior squad players over youth.
He introduced Elliott and Diaz at just the right time, and both went on to have an impact on the game.