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A perfect half & another final! – 5 talking points from Liverpool 3-2 Man City

Liverpool will be coming back to Wembley for the FA Cup final after an incredible first 45 minutes saw the Reds beat Manchester City 3-2 on Saturday.

Liverpool 3-2 Man City

Wembley Stadium, FA Cup semi-final
Saturday 16 April, 2022

Goals: Konate 9′, Mane 17′ 45′; Grealish 46′, Silva 90′

 

Jurgen’s three big calls

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 16, 2022: Liverpool's Ibrahima Konaté celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Cup Semi-Final game between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Konate in ahead of Matip, Keita in before captain Henderson and Diaz getting the nod in attack over Firmino or Jota.

Those were really the only choices for the boss to make despite a full squad, with Origi, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Elliott and Minamino the unfortunate names to miss out entirely.

It’s fair to say they were absolutely perfect calls from Klopp, with each of the trio extremely influential in the sumptuous first half from the Reds.

Konate was very strong defensively again, but crucially nodded in the opening goal too – three in three starts for him and it looks as though he could be a massive weapon from set plays for seasons to come.

Naby was the absolute key in the counter-press and transition play, carrying and winning it with regularity, while Luis Diaz put on a highlights reel all of his own along with some incredible work rate.

Great competition for places producing great performances – and excellent squad management from the boss, this is exactly why he rotates.

 

Story of two keepers

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 16, 2022: Liverpool's Sadio Mané scores the second goal as Manchester City's goalkeeper Zack Steffen makes a mistake during the FA Cup Semi-Final game between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Diogo Jota very nearly did it last week, Sadio Mane did this time.

A different ‘keeper, but the same approach from City trying to play out – and the same approach from the Reds, stopping City passing through the thirds, forcing them back and pressing high throughout.

Sadio Mane took it to the extreme, tackling Zak Steffen on the goalline to score our second – and he beat the ‘keeper near post with a wicked second strike right before the break.

At the other end, Alisson was called upon a few times in the second half to ensure it didn’t get too nervy, too early – and he came up trumps.

Biggest of all was a one-on-one save from Gabriel Jesus (who should have been sent-off, diving after being booked) and then a late stop from Sterling, as well as some big punches and aerial claims when needed.

Since we’re on the subject of cards not being handed out, how long would the game have to have been played for for Fernandinho to get a deserved second yellow?!

 

A perfect 45 minutes?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 16, 2022: Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FA Cup Semi-Final game between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Defensively sound, lightning in transitions, some exceptional combination play and clinical in the final third.

Against Manchester City, at Wembley.

It’s quite possible this was the most complete, close-to-perfection performance across a half of football that even this formidable side has put together, given the context of the opposition and match meaning.

That kind of dominance and perfection against a side this good could never have lasted all match of course, but we had done more than enough.

“The first half was one of the best we ever played,” said Klopp post-match. “We did all the right stuff. We played an incredible game in the first half.”

 

The stand-out stand-outs

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 16, 2022: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara (L) and Manchester City's captain Fernando Luiz Roza 'Fernandinho' during the FA Cup Semi-Final game between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Too many to mention, almost. And in fairness every single player had to put in a massive shift and be good individually at different times to be a couple of goals ahead against Man City. In the ratings they could all feasibly be 8s, 9s and 10s.

But let’s pick a couple anyway, for particular mention.

Trent: It can no longer be an excuse to be ignorant and say he’s not good defensively. He absolutely locked down the flank, won every challenge and covered where needed, right up to the 90th minute.

Diaz: More space, more sunshine, more chances to see Luis’ magic footwork. He was ludicrous, taking players on and tracking people back, a magic performer.

Fabinho: If the league game against City was among his least-impressive performances for the Reds, this was up with his greatest.

Sadio: Brilliant, non-stop. Two very different but equally incredible goals, some superb link-up play and aerial work, a great centre-forward showing.

Thiago: With sincere apologies to the official man of the match, Thiago was an absolute joke at Wembley. Maybe the most outrageous showing of a very good season, he probably made more no-look passes today than most other players completed highly-concentrated-definitely-looking-carefully passes. Wonderful assist, untouchable player.

 

Manchester again…and Wembley again!

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 16, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates in front of the supporters after the FA Cup Semi-Final game between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 3-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

No time to really soak in this big win – the fixture list is relentless and since we’re trying to go all the way in every competition, the matches just keep on coming.

It’s back up to Anfield for midweek now and against the other Manchester club.

Earlier in the season we utterly humiliated them on home soil and to be blunt, that’s exactly what we should be looking to do again on Tuesday. This is, after all, a team who laboured to a home win over the league’s bottom club while the Reds were winning at Wembley.

And even before that, we’ll see who our final opponents will be: Chelsea again in the other domestic final, or Crystal Palace.

It’s still on!

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