Diogo Jota’s lunging finish punished Nottingham Forest’s missed chances to send Liverpool into the FA Cup semi-final. Jurgen Klopp’s side were far from their mercurial best against the Championship side, but they managed to make their one moment of quality count, as Kostas Tsimikas found the stretching Jota with a wonderful cross into the back post to secure the victory.
Steve Cooper’s side came into the contest having already claimed two Premier League scalps in Arsenal and Leicester City. But their fearlessness and confidence was almost their downfall, as Jack Colback lost the ball in a dangerous area, gifting Roberto Firmino with a clear route to goal. However, the Brazilian was far too wasteful with his chance, as his attempt of a scooped finish hit the face of Forest goalkeeper Ethan Horvath.
Despite the lung-bursting intensities of both sides, very few chances were created at the Forest Ground. However, the Championship side had a golden opportunity to progress into the semi-final, but Philip Zinckernagel diverted Brennan Johnson’s perfect cross wide from eight yards. His miss was swiftly punished by the ruthless Reds, as Diogo Jota lunged to squeeze Kostas Tsimikas’ perfect finish in at the back-post to send Liverpool into the semi-final.
The Merseysiders will face Manchester City in the semi-final at Wembley, after Pep Guardiola’s side easily dispatched Southampton 4-1 at the St Mary’s Stadium. Express sport considers four things we learned from Liverpool’s narrow victory over Nottingham Forest.
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Spence coming to an England team near you
Liverpool left-back Kostas Tsimikas will likely be relieved he does not have to play against Djed Spence this season. The 21-year-old Englishman relentlessly tormented the Greek defender with his relentless attacking runs from right-back.
There is a terrifying directness and confidence in the Middlesbrough loanee whose dribbling technique and ability to play with his head up compliments his natural speed and effortless power. While the youngster will likely garner a regular place in Gareth Southgate’s thoughts when he eventually makes the step up to the Premier League, Spence certainly made a huge impression against the Merseysiders.
Gomez could soon be back to his best
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s hamstring injury has presented Joe Gomez with an opportunity to get himself back into Klopp’s thoughts. The Englishman, who missed the majority of last season through injury, was van Dijk’s primary defensive partner in the Reds’ victorious Champions League and Premier League triumph
While he was not partnering the defensive colossus at central defence, he enjoyed a very solid display at right-back. Gomez’s trademark recovery runs do not seem to have lost any pace, as he demonstrated with a gut-busting run to disposessed Philip Zinckernagel when he looked to be through one-on-one against Alisson.
Even though his attacking limitations will never see him displace Alexander-Arnold, Gomez’s Rolls Royce like playing style could very well result in Klopp handing the former Charlton ace another chance at the heart of the defence.
Firmino is too composed for his own good
There is no doubt that Firmino is a wonderful player to watch. On his day, Firmino regularly drops draws with his spectacular link up play, wonderful footwork, and ruthless finishing. Unfortunately, the very calmness and composure that oozes from his performances clouded his decision making at a crucial point.
The Brazilian was put through one-on-one against Ethan Horvath after former Newcastle United midfielder Jack Colback needlessly lost the ball 35-yards from his goal. Except, appeared to be more concerned by the aesthetics of his finish rather than hitting the back of the net, as he slowed down and allowed Horvath to rush off his line, only to scoop a ball into the goalkeeper’s face.
With the score still tied at 0-0 coming towards the end of the first half, it was a crucial miss at a very crucial time for the Reds. Considering Firmino’s place has recently been taken by the likes of Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz, it could be a decision that has further ramifications for the striker’s future at Anfield.