Tag: Philippe Coutinho

FA Cup: Aston Villa 2-1 Liverpool

Aston Villa will meet Arsenal in the FA Cup final after a thoroughly deserved win over a desperately disappointing Liverpool at Wembley.

Villa’s win was a triumph for manager Tim Sherwood as his side produced a performance of style, composure and grit to come from behind and reach their first FA Cup final since their loss to Chelsea in 2000.

As a consequence there will be no dream finale to his Liverpool career for Steven Gerrard. The Reds skipper, who will join Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy in the summer, was hoping to make a final appearance for the club in an FA Cup final scheduled to take place on 30 May, his 35th birthday.

Philippe Coutinho clipped Liverpool into the lead but the dangerous Christian Benteke levelled before half-time and Villa scored the winner their display fully merited through Fabian Delph’s cool finish nine minutes after the break.

Lethargic Liverpool mounted a rally of sorts late on when Kieran Richardson cleared off the line from Liverpool captain Gerrard and half-time substitute Mario Balotelli was dubiously ruled offside when he had the ball in the net.

Villa, however, were not to be denied and the final whistle sparked scenes of joy among players and supporters alike.

The normally animated Sherwood had been calm on the touchline throughout but all his emotions poured out as he celebrated another trip to Wembley on 30 May, on top of moving Villa towards Premier League safety. The ex-Spurs manager, who replaced sacked Paul Lambert in February, has overseen a superb rejuvenation at Villa Park.

Villa had giants all over the pitch, particularly in the shape of Benteke and the gifted 19-year-old Jack Grealish, who played with a calm that belied his years in this hothouse atmosphere.

Liverpool, in contrast, were dismal and once again failed to deliver when the big occasion demanded – which will be a matter of great concern to manager Brendan Rodgers.

Read more at BBC Sport

Premiership: Liverpool 2-1 Man City

Liverpool put a huge dent in Manchester City’s title hopes with a 2-1 victory which dramatically enhanced their own hopes of a top-four finish.

Chelsea’s involvement in the Capital One Cup final had given Manuel Pellegrini’s side a chance to reduce the gap at the top to two points but, as was the case last season, they were cut down at Anfield.

Eleven months ago defeat here did not prove their undoing in the title race as Chelsea did them a favour by winning at Anfield.

This time it was Liverpool doing Chelsea favours — not something their fans would usually celebrate but on this occasion their club’s needs come first, and with the championship beyond their means, the race for Champions League qualification takes priority.

Jordan Henderson’s brilliant opener was matched by an equally good team goal from Edin Dzeko but Philippe Coutinho’s 75th-minute winner eclipsed them all.

Anfield is a bad ground for City, who have now not won here in 12 league matches, yet it was supposed to be their hosts who were mourning a Europa League exit to Besiktas on penalties on Thursday.

City reverted to the team which thrashed Newcastle 5-0 last weekend after losing to Barcelona in midweek but it was the home side, registering four changes — most significantly returning playmaker Coutinho — from the defeat to Besiktas, who got off to a flier.

Coutinho, who twice set up Adam Lallana to first shoot weakly at Joe Hart and then brilliantly finish from a narrow angle only to be judged marginally offside, was the instigator.

Pressing hard he robbed Vincent Kompany and rode a challenge from the City captain before laying off to Raheem Sterling, who gave Kompany a torrid time in the first half, and he teed up Henderson to curl a beauty over Hart and into the top corner in the 11th minute.

Immediately the intensity went up a notch, with Sergio Aguero breaking free of Skrtel and beating Simon Mignolet but not the far post with a left-footed shot.

It was end-to-end stuff, with the creative Coutinho and equally mercurial David Silva running the show for their respective sides, although an honourable mention should go to the pint-sized Joe Allen, who was a giant in midfield against players of huge size and even bigger reputations.

The former’s ball with the outside of his right foot sent Sterling racing down the left wing, but although he easily jinked past Eliaquim Mangala, City’s 32 million-pound summer signing, his cross rolled through the six-yard area with no-one to knock it in.

Silva was increasingly finding space in front of Liverpool’s back four, the area where he is most dangerous, and from there he crafted City’s 25th-minute equaliser.

The Spain international picked out Aguero, whose sublime ball to Dzeko was deservedly rewarded with a goal as the Bosnian slotted past Mignolet for his 50th Premier League goal.

From then on the game became even more open and entertaining, something of a rarity for a noon kick-off on a Sunday.

Both defences looked to be the weakest links, with Mangala equally out of touch as Kompany while Dejan Lovren’s presence in the back three, after his penalty shoot-out miss in Istanbul cost his side Europa League progress, seemed to cause as much indecision in Liverpool’s ranks as it did consternation in the stands.

The ripple of applause he received for holding off or, depending on your persuasion, pushing over Pablo Zabaleta in the box just before half-time seemed more in relief than appreciation.

Attacks continued, with Aguero heading over 20 seconds into the second half and Sterling bundling wide a Lallana cross, but the quality level dropped somewhat.

In an instant it was raised again, in the 75th minute, when Coutinho cut in from the left, dropped his shoulder and unleashed an arcing shot which dipped over the outstretched fingertips of Hart.

Once again going behind sparked City to go to another gear and, having sent on striker Wilfried Bony for Fernandinho, Aguero’s angled shot whistled just past the far post after Lovren had lunged in.

A frenzied final 10 minutes saw Coutinho have another shot deflected over, Bony escape with a yellow card after appearing to lead with an elbow on Lallana, substitute Daniel Sturridge roll a shot wide with only Hart to beat and Silva flash a shot just off target with the seconds ticking down.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Southampton 0-2 Liverpool

Liverpool moved to within two points of a Champions League place by scoring with their first two shots on target at fifth-placed Southampton.

Philippe Coutinho scored with a 25-yard curler in the third minute.

Southampton had two early penalty appeals turned down, as challenges on Filip Djuricic by Emre Can and Joe Allen went unpunished.

Raheem Sterling also had a penalty claim rejected, but made it 2-0 when Matt Targett failed to clear a cross.

Liverpool are the only team not to have lost a Premier League match in 2015 and are well placed to push for top-four finish in their final 12 matches.

The result saw Brendan Rodgers’ side leapfrog Tottenham into sixth and left them three points behind third-placed Arsenal.

They had to ride their luck, though, to hold on to the early lead given to them in spectacular fashion by Coutinho.

The Brazil midfielder gathered Lazar Markovic’s pass and hit a third-minute strike that bounced in off the underside of the crossbar.

Liverpool had already survived a penalty appeal by that point, as on-loan Benfica midfielder Djuricic burst into the area and appeared to be pushed over by Can, but referee Kevin Friend gave nothing.

Southampton were appealing in vain again within a minute of Coutinho’s goal, as Djuricic looked to have been fouled by Allen, with Eljero Elia’s follow-up shot saved by Simon Mignolet amid the confusion.

The visitors had a penalty claim of their own rejected when Jose Fonte took Sterling’s legs from underneath him – although the defender could argue he got the ball first.

There was more controversy before the break, with Mignolet appearing to handle just outside the box as he raced out to stop Elia reaching Nathaniel Clyne’s through ball.

Markovic, despite his assist for Coutinho’s goal, looked uncomfortable in the left wing-back role as Liverpool wobbled defensively, and Rodgers’ decision to replace him at half-time with Alberto Moreno gave the visitors a more solid look.

The hosts failed to open the Reds up as they had done in the first half, and conceded a second when Moreno broke down the left after Morgan Schneiderlin had given the ball away, and Targett’s scuffed clearance fell for Sterling to sweep in.

By then, Southampton had run out of ideas, and Rodgers’ side had a fourth successive victory secured.

Read more at BBC Sport

FA Cup: Bolton 1-2 Liverpool

Liverpool secure late win at Bolton thanks to fine Philippe Coutinho strike

Philippe Coutinho celebrated his new five-year contract with an added-time winner as Liverpool kept their FA Cup hopes alive in a dramatic late turnaround at Bolton.

The Brazil international committed his long-term future to the club on Monday and marked the occasion with only his third goal of the season in the second additional minute to seal a 2-1 win.

Raheem Sterling had equalised in the 85th minute as Wanderers buckled under the pressure of having to play the last 25 minutes with 10 men after Neil Danns’ dismissal following Eidur Gudjohnsen’s disputed penalty.

It kept alive the hope of a fairytale ending to Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool career before he flies off to join Los Angeles Galaxy, with the final falling on the day of his 35th birthday.

The Liverpool captain was making his 700th appearance, becoming only the third person to reach the landmark for the club after Ian Callaghan (857) and Jamie Carragher (737), in this tie but for once he was not the one to influence proceedings.

But for a long time it looked as though it would be a miserable occasion for the midfielder as Neil Lennon’s team produced a similarly admirable defensive performance to the one which had earned them a goalless draw at Anfield, and for 85 minutes it looked like being the perfect gameplan.

With injury denying Emile Heskey another chance to face his former club, defender Matt Mills started the match as a makeshift striker alongside Eidur Gudjohnsen.

His lack of experience in the position was reflected by the pre-match odds, which had him at 50-1 to score with midfielder Darren Pratley, out for six weeks with a hamstring injury, rated a better bet at 20-1.

As in their first meeting, chances were at a premium for Wanderers and the best, as at Anfield, fell to Gudjohnsen who ballooned over from Josh Vela’s cross, and David Wheater who headed straight at goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

Liverpool, as you would expect, created the greater number of opportunities, with Sterling planting a shot against the post after being given far too much time to turn and pick his spot by the Bolton defence.

It was a rare error of judgement in the first half as they restricted the visitors to weak efforts from Gerrard, Coutinho (twice) and Sterling.

Dorian Dervite produced the tackle of the match early in the second half to dispossess Sterling just as he was about to pull the trigger having raced on to Coutinho’s pass as the hosts’ defending continued to keep the Premier League side at bay.

If Liverpool were frustrated by their opponents then they were infuriated by referee Roger East’s decision to award a 59th-minute penalty.

Skrtel was naive in dangling a leg but the 19-year-old Clough showed the nous of an old pro in taking full advantage to go down from minimal, if any, contact.

Gudjohnsen drilled home from the spot but Bolton soon found themselves down to 10 men when Danns was sent off for a second bookable offence for a foul on Joe Allen.

Daniel Sturridge was sent on to find a goal in the final 20 minutes, just as he had on his comeback against West Ham on Saturday, but it was Jordan Henderson, another substitute, and defender Emre Can who came closest, with the former’s volley deflected on to a post by Wheater and goalkeeper Andy Lonergan finger-tipping the other on to the crossbar.

Sterling was the saviour five minutes from time as he slotted Can’s pass through Lonergan’s legs – Liverpool’s 700th FA Cup goal – before Coutinho bent one into the top corner from distance as Bolton’s resistance eventually broke and the Reds booked a fifth-round tie at Crystal Palace.

Read more at ESPN

Premiership: Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal

Martin Skrtel salvages late Liverpool draw against Arsenal

Martin Skrtel scored an equaliser deep into injury time as Liverpool rescued a 2-2 draw against Arsenal.

After a first half that largely failed to ignite, the match sparked into action just before the break. Philippe Coutinho’s neat turn allowed him the space to fire home off the post and give the Reds a deserved lead, but Arsenal hit back instantly when Mathieu Debuchy headed home following a free kick.

Liverpool might have restored their advantage in the second half when Raheem Sterling took the ball around Szczesny — seemingly with the help of his hand — before crossing for Steve Gerrard, but the Reds captain headed over the bar.

Not long afterwards, Olivier Giroud had put Arsenal in front, smashing home from close range after Santi Cazorla’s cut-back.

That looked to have settled it, particularly after Fabio Borini was sent off late on, but Skrtel powered home a header from a corner to ensure the hosts took a deserved share of the spoils.

Arsenal can realistically have few complaints having been completely outplayed in the first half and some of the second but the point undoubtedly meant much more to their visitors, who have now strung together three decent performances in a week.

It may not have been the devastating first 20 minutes seen on this ground back in March when a stunned Gunners found themselves 4-0 down but the first half was probably as well as Liverpool had played all season.

The old fast-paced pressing and tempo had returned led by the unlikely figures of Lazar Markovic and Coutinho, who aside from snapping at the heels of their opponents were providing a much-needed injection of attacking thrust, with the latter an early free-kick which Steven Gerrard could not capitalise from.

Adam Lallana, whose movement was cleverly providing the link between midfield and attack, and Markovic both had chances as Liverpool’s dominance of possession continued to produce opportunities but the former fired over and Wojciech Szczesny denied the latter.

Some of the pre-match billing had centred around comparisons between Alexis Sanchez, the striker Liverpool wanted as a Luis Suarez replacement in the summer, and Raheem Sterling, the man currently being asked to deputise in the injured Daniel Sturridge’s absence, but neither had much impact in the first half.

The threat of Sterling’s pace kept the visitors’ defence on their toes but he had only one real run at them which teed up Markovic to curl over with a first-time shot.

Sanchez, scorer of 14 goals this season, was virtually anonymous but his most significant contribution came when he won and then took the free-kick which led to Arsenal’s equaliser with virtually the last touch of the half.

Liverpool had just gone ahead through Coutinho’s second goal of the season, a richly-deserved effort for both the team and individual.

Giroud gave the ball away to Jordan Henderson who picked out his Brazilian team-mate on the edge of the area and he shifted the ball onto his right foot before firing in off the far post.

That appeared to be that but in added time Debuchy outjumped Skrtel after Mertesacker and Mathieu Flamini, fortunate not to escape a second yellow card for catching Lallana in the face, both won headers from Sanchez’s free-kick.

The delay for a nasty cut to Skrtel’s head caused by the accidental boot of Giroud affected the flow of play early in the second half but the pace picked up again when Szczesny’s ill-advised charge out of goal saw Sterling cross for Gerrard to loop over a diving header.

But while Liverpool were missing their chances there was nothing wrong with Arsenal’s cutting edge and from a counter-attack down their left Giroud exchanged passes with Santi Cazorla to guide a first-time shot through the legs of Brad Jones.

Two efforts on target, two goals scored. It appeared to be a classic snatch-and-grab from Arsenal.

When Szczesny tipped over substitute Fabio Borini’s header and turned aside Sterling’s shot it only further highlighted the host’s previous issues up front.

Borini’s second yellow card for a high challenge on Cazorla, having already been booked for throwing the ball away, just added further insult.

But with two minutes of the additional time remaining Skrtel powered home Lallana’s corner.

Read more at ESPN