Saturday, 20 December 2014

Sterling Double Sours Cherries Hopes

After a bad result away to Manchester United at the weekend, Liverpool travelled to face Championship leaders Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup quarter final on Wednesday night.

Brendan Rodgers stuck with Brad Jones in goal while the return of Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini saw them both named among the substitutes as the Reds looked secure a place in the last four and edge closer to a trip to Wembley in March.

The home side started the better which was no surprise given Liverpool's mixed away form and the Reds could have gone 2-0 down early on with a Adam Smith forcing a block from Martin Skrtel before Callum Wilson wasted a superb chance seconds later as he hit narrowly past the post.

Liverpool responded with a duo of chances from Adam Lallana with the midfielder forcing former Southampton teammate Artur Boruc into a superb tipping save before sending a shot wide of the post in the space of seven minutes.

Lazar Markovic has had limited chances this season to live up to his £20m summer price tag but showed some real promise in the 20th minute with a weighted cross to the back post to the head of Jordan Henderson who picked out lone striker Raheem Sterling in space who arrowed the ball past Boruc to open the scoring.

Bournemouth were unable to mount a rapid response as they fell further behind just seven minutes later, Phillipe Coutinho tested Artur Boruc with a close range shot which drew a parry from the Cherries stopper and fell into the path of Lazar Markovic who fired into the net to claim his first goal for the Reds.

The Cherries could have pulled one back instantly when Simon Francis crossed for Yann Kermogant but to the dismay of the home crowd, the Frenchman blazed his effort high over the target before an effort from Dan Gosling was blocked well by Steven Gerrard just five minutes before the interval.

After ending the first half in good spirits, Bournemouth began the second half in a bad way as they were carved open by superbly skillful routine from Raheem Sterling, who danced through the Cherries defence before rifling the ball past a helpless Artur Boruc to extend the lead to three goals in the 51st minute.

Bournemouth bounced back with a superb effort of their own in the 57th minute as Dan Gosling, famed for a FA Cup semi final winning goal against Liverpool powered a shot at goal which looked to have been saved by Brad Jones. However, the Australian was unable to deny the Cherries midfielder as his attempted save failed to stop the ball nestling in the net.

Buoyed by gracing the scoreboard, Bournemouth looked to add a second notation as a deep cross found the head of Ryan Fraser but his effort travelled narrowly over the bar. Raheem Sterling came achingly close to a first senior hat-trick for Liverpool in the 67th minute as he latched on to a clever flick from Adam Lallana before dragging a shot wide of the post.

At the other end, Bournemouth should have made it 3-2 when Dan Gosling cannoned a shot at goal but his effort came back off the post and into the path of Matt Richie who blew a great chance with a shot wide of the target.

Bournemouth had another good chance in the 80th minute as Simon Francis looked to test Brad Jones from long range but could only send the ball past the post before Baily Cargill drew a strong save from Brad Jones with two minutes remaining as Liverpool held on for the win.

A fairly good performance from the Reds against a side who have high hopes of reaching the top flight and look good to do so this season while Liverpool will move their focus to tomorrow's huge clash at home to Arsenal at Anfield.