BLACKBURN 0 – 1 LIVERPOOL

We almost went to a penalty shoot out with Blackburn tonight. Coutinho saved the day for us with his magic, he really did. He’s a magician.

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Liverpool didn’t actually look so “magical” for a large part of this game – it seemed like it was headed to another goalless draw, which was the reason we had to play a replay at Ewood Park anyway – there was no goals scored at Anfield when we first played Blackburn. It could have easily happened again, but Liverpool’s desire to make it to the FA Cup Semi Final proved stronger motivation for the team and so we came out as the victors before we had to take any spot kicks to progress in this competition.

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The line up was interesting in a couple of ways, though largely as expected. Clearly, Daniel Sturridge decided that he would “play through the pain”, with him still in some discomfort after injuring his hip in the last Premier League clash with Manchester United not so long ago. If he was at 100% fitness, I think he’d be putting the ball in the net against opponents like Blackburn but match practice is still a good thing and hopefully we will see him make as many appearances as he can before the season ends and he can take a much needed summer vacation to rest his body which has taken more than a few knocks since August 2014.

Mario Balotelli has apparently been suffering from injury also, I particularly wanted to see him play in this game, but he isn’t at 100% fitness either, so the manager did not even list him as substitute despite the fact that he had been training with the first team prior to this game. It’s one thing to be “fit” but an entirely different thing to be “match fit”. If you only just got back to high levels of fitness, you still need time to fully recover and a bit of training with your own squad before you make it back in to the first team again to play competitive games.

The first half was quite uneventful, honestly. In the first half hour, the most interesting thing that happened was when Mamadou Sakho was fouled and spent a few minutes down on the pitch and eventually needed substituting, with Kolo Toure coming on to replace the Frenchman around the half hour mark. Joe Allen had a shot. Coutinho had a shot. Daniel Sturridge had a shot. Raheem Sterling had a shot. We weren’t without attempts on goal, but none of them were really hitting the target or giving the Blackburn goal keeper much to worry about before the half time break. Their defense was just as tight as it was in the first time we played them and nobody had scored in that game. (see http://www.anfieldfamily.com/liverpool-0-0-blackburn/ for the report on that).

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Brendan Rodgers may have been satisfied with our performance in the first half, but I hope he at least pushed the team, tried to motivate them to get the win. He must have known that it could have just been another goalless draw and maybe going to be decided on penalties.

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The second half would see Raheem Sterling create some chances, he was playing some exciting attacking football. Despite all the talk about him being a little greedy and more interested in money than football, he showed interest in winning the game – he might just be telling the truth about wanting to win trophies. He’s been part of a team that only has to beat Aston Villa to get to the FA Cup Final now. He’s gotta want that pretty bad and played to win tonight, to make it happen.

Jordan Henderson was a fine example of how to be a team leader, once again. He’s been switching between vice-captain and captain this season and any time we need him to show his leadership skills, he’s led Liverpool’s first team like any worthy captain should be doing. Hendo would give the assist for the only goal of the game and his contribution was invaluable as always.

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The goal in question, was a fine strike from the Brazilian. After receiving the ball from Henderson, Coutinho would strike a powerful shot that made its way past a Blackburn defender and goalkeeper, ending up in the bottom right corner of the net. It happened around the 70 minute mark and Liverpool would have about 20 minutes (and injury time) left to play before they could celebrate their win. It wasn’t easy, but Liverpool would keep their clean sheet once more against Blackburn (credit to Mignolet and our defenders for doing that not just once, but twice in the FA Cup) and we’d seal the win we needed before progressing to the FA Semi Final.

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My Man of the Match is Coutinho. He worked tirelessly in the whole game in helping his side not have to take penalties in order to beat our opponents, making sure we got the win we needed before the 90 minutes were up. Without him and his magic goal, we’d have had a chance of losing on penalties and perhaps suffering an embarrassing defeat to a club that is not even in the Premier League any more.

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It’s been announced that Liverpool will play Aston Villa on April 19th at Wembley Stadium – which is usually reserved for cup FINALS, not Semi Finals. But hey, we’re going to enjoy the occasion – all the travelling Reds fans will get to experience the amazing atmosphere of a legendary stadium whether we make it to the final or not.

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Before we continue our FA Cup campaign, we have a home game to play against Newcastle in the Premier League. Still trying to make our way up to 4th place, we’ll need to take all 3 points from them and hope that while we’re winning our game – Manchester United suffer a defeat at the hands of their opponents. They have Manchester City and Chelsea to play in their next two fixtures and it’s possible they could drop some points. We’ll really need that to happen as we keep our hopes and dreams alive for Champions League football next season.

Anyway, walk on Anfield Family. Walk on with hope in your hearts. You’ll Never Walk Alone.

[written by] Stuart Drewery.

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I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so i was born into being a red.

I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.

I’m a die hard Liverpool fan (only supported ONE club in my whole life, Liverpool) and one of the most dedicated fans you’ll ever meet.

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