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Coutinho fires Reds into FA Cup semis

Coutinho fires Reds into FA Cup semis
Philippe Coutinho produced a moment of magic to earn Liverpool a much-needed 1-0 victory at second-tier Blackburn Rovers in their FA Cup quarterfinal replay on Wednesday. The Brazilian fired in an accurate low drive in the 70th minute at Ewood Park to earn Brendan Rodgers’s side an FA Cup semifinal date with Aston Villa at Wembley on April 19.

Coutinho seems to enjoy playing cup replays in this part of northwest England, having also scored the winner against Bolton Wanderers in the fourth round. It was hardly comfortable and it was not pretty, but for Rodgers this victory was more than welcome.

Since Blackburn held out for a goalless draw at Anfield in the original tie a month ago, Liverpool have seen their hopes of a place in the Premier League’s top four fade, with two defeats in three matches.

By Rodgers’s admission, it had placed extra significance on this competition, which the Reds have not won since 2006, and particularly with the final falling on the day that departing captain Steven Gerrard celebrates his 35th birthday. Rodgers made three changes to the team humbled 4-1 by Arsenal on Saturday, with Dejan Lovren coming in for his first appearance since the match against Rovers at Anfield.

A narrow midfield of Lucas Leiva, Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson helped Liverpool enjoy the majority of possession in the first half, but both teams saw goal-scoring opportunities come and go. With Rudy Gestede, Liverpool’s tormentor in the first game, only fit enough to come on for the final 26 minutes due to a hamstring strain, Blackburn had Jordan Rhodes as their lone striker for most of the match. Rhodes has 17 goals to his name this season, but he headed a glorious chance over the bar from Ben Marshall’s left-wing cross.
AFP

AFP

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