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Match Report


Posted Wed 08 Apr 15 at 22:00 PM

Rovers 0 Liverpool 1

Philippe Coutinho dashed dreams of a Wembley date with a second half strike to knock the Rovers out of the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage.

In a pulsating match at a packed Ewood Park, the Brazilian's goal 20 minutes from time was enough to send the Reds through to a last four meeting with Aston Villa.

But it was Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet who was the man of the match with three crucial second half saves to keep the Rovers at bay.

After the visitors had edged the first half, it was second where the game really sprang to life, and the Anfield side had their keeper to thank with two outstanding saves from Tom Cairney and Ben Marshall.

The introduction of Rudy Gestede raised the volume from the Rovers supporters even further, but it was the visitors who grabbed the all-important goal.

On 70 minutes a one-two between Coutinho and Jordan Henderson saw the Brazilian race into the box and he fired into the far corner of the net via the post.

Urged on by a sellout crowd Rovers pressed until the death and almost snatched a deserved equaliser in the final seconds.

A long throw into the box from Tommy Spurr was flicked on by Gestede to keeper Simon Eastwood who turned and fired goalwards, but his opposite number stopped the shot on the line at the second attempt to send Liverpool through.

It was a fantastic effort on and off the pitch from all those of a blue and white persuasion, but their endeavours, whilst deserved, weren't rewarded.

A sellout Ewood Park greeted the two teams with a cacophony of noise as they emerged from the tunnel.

The volume rose further as Matt Kilgallon called the Rovers players into a pre-match huddle for a last minute call to arms.

When the game got underway it was the visitors who forced the early pace, Joe Allen firing wide with a first-time shot before the recalled Simon Eastwood watched a Raheem Stirling effort go wide of the mark.

On 13 minutes a Rovers free-kick into the Liverpool box saw Mamadou Sakho hesitate, Craig Conway, back after a hamstring strain, looked to take advantage but the Reds defender got back just in time to atone for his error with an important block.

After Daniel Sturridge landed a shot on the roof of the net, Rovers responded with an excellent chance of their own. Conway sending a ball into the box, but Jordan Rhodes, making his first start in the FA Cup this season, planted his header wide.

As the opening half drew to a close it was the visitors who ended the stronger, Glen Johnson seeing a near post shot claimed by Eastwood, before the Rovers keeper saved well through a crowded area as Philippe Coutinho drove goalwards.

In the Liverpool goal Simon Mignolet had enjoyed a quiet first half but by two minutes into the second half he had made two outstanding saves.

On 46 minutes a strong run from Markus Olsson saw the Swede feed Tom Cairney inside who let fly with a sumptuous left-foot strike, but it was only bettered by the save as the Belgian international dived to his left to push the ball behind.

From the resulting corner kick the Liverpool keeper made an even more impressive stop to deny Rovers. Conway fired the ball into the box to where Ben Marshall planted his header goalwards but somehow Mignolet got down superbly at his post to push the ball aside.

Conway came through an impressive 65 minutes on his return from injury, the introduction of his replacement Rudy Gestede raised the decibels even further from the home fans.

Immediately the big man was involved, winning possession to feed Rhodes but first half substitute Kolo Toure got back in time to block the striker's shot.

For all the pressure from the home side it was the visitors who finally broke the deadlock on 70 minutes.

As Rovers cleared Coutinho's corner kick, the ball came back out to the Brazilian, and he exchanged passes with Jordan Henderson before driving into the box and firing low into the far corner via the post.

Rovers, urged on by fantastic support, looked to hit back, but with them pushing more men forward they were susceptible on the break. A through ball to Sturridge saw the England striker lift the ball over Eastwood, but thankfully over the bar.

The tireless Alex Baptiste limped off to be replaced by Tommy Spurr, his name-sake Cairney had Rovers' next chance but fired wide after forcing his way to the edge of the area.

As Rovers pressed at one end, Liverpool threatened at the other, substitute Rickie Lambert headed over moments after his introduction, Stirling over the bar on the break.

Deep into added time Rovers almost snatched a deserved leveller through the most unlikely of players.

In the dying seconds Tommy Spurr sent a long throw into the penalty box, it broke for goalkeeper Eastwood on the edge of the box, he drove hard and low but Mignolet, like he had done with his two crucial saves at the beginning of the half, was alert to the danger and stopped the shot at the second attempt.

It was a fantastic effort from everyone at Ewood Park, both players and fans can be rightly proud.

ROVERS: Eastwood, Henley, Baptiste (sub Spurr 80 mins), Kilgallon (c), Olsson, Conway (sub Gestede 65 mins), Williamson, Evans, Marshall, Cairney, Rhodes.

Subs not used: Steele (GK), Songo'o, Nyambe, Lenihan, Mahoney.

Goals: None.

Booked: Evans.

LIVERPOOL: Mignolet, Johnson, Lovren, Coutinho, Henderson (c), Sturridge (sub Lambert 85 mins), Sakho (sub Toure 28 mins), Moreno, Lucas, Allen, Sterling.

Subs: Jones (GK), Manquillo, Borini, Brannigan, Markovic.

Goals: Coutinho 70 mins.

Booked: Stirling.

Attendance: 28,415 (including 7263 visiting supporters)

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