Liverpool knocked out a stubborn Nottingham Forest side to book their place in the FA Cup semi finals. A late goal by Diogo Jota settled the tie as the Reds were made to work for the victory. Here’s a review of the match.

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° Lineup. There were seven changes to the side that beat Arsenal on Wednesday night. Gomez, Konaté, Tsimikas, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Keita, Elliott and Firmino came in for Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Robertson, Henderson, Thiago, Salah and Mané respectively.

It was a rotated side but still with the strong spine of Alisson, Van Dijk, Fabinho and Firmino. The strength in depth was evident by the fact that Minamino and Origi, two Cup specialists, couldn’t even make the starting XI.

° Bright start. It was another strong start for Jürgen Klopp’s men, with Jota denied a shot on goal by an excellent Worrall tackle before Tsimikas sent a dipping effort just over the bar. The first 15 minutes consisted of the Reds matching Forest for workrate and creating openings to score.

° Forest fight. The hosts gave it their all last night, with their vociferous crowd backing them every step of the way. They fought hard across the pitch, seeking to use their physicality to disrupt the Reds’ somewhat. It worked to an extent first half as it ended goalless.

° Missed chances. The Reds missed chances as well as chances to create chances in the first half. Firmino’s chip when through on goal didn’t beat the keeper and there were several occasions where the final pass, the final touch or the final shot was not quite right.

° Quadruple substitution. The gaffer made 4 alterations at a go after the hour mark with Henderson, Thiago, Diaz and Minamino sent on for Fabinho, Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Elliott. It prompted a shift to a 4-2-3-1 formation as the Reds searched for the opener.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was quite visibly upset to be taken off but he can have no complaints. He’s didn’t do enough last night to merit staying on longer. He hasn’t done enough in a number of his appearances this season and you can’t shake the feeling of a parting of ways this summer.

° Forest frustrates. Steve Cooper’s side continued to keep Liverpool at bay. They got in the Reds’ faces and disrupted most of their attacking play. You could understand how they knocked out Arsenal and Leicester. They looked well coached and the raucous atmosphere played it’s part.

° Sliding doors moment. In the 76th minute, Forest intercepted Van Dijk’s pass after he had strode into midfield. They countered swiftly and the ball was worked out to the right for Johnson who crossed it in behind for Zinkernagel to run onto.

The attacking midfielder somehow screwed his shot wide of the post when it looked easier to hit the target. The Reds were let off the hook, and just like at the Emirates, they punished their opponents’ lack of ruthlessness. Two minutes later, Jota broke the deadlock.

° Liverpool find the back of the net. A right footed cross by Tsimikas was inch perfect as it found Jota at the back post. The Portuguese international stretched every senew to get a touch on it to poke it past the keeper and hand his side a deserved lead.

It was a brilliant ball by Kostas. The left back was a constant presence on the left wing last night as he pinned the highly rated Djed Spence back. The assist was just reward for another strong showing from ‘the Greek Scouser’.

Kostas Tsimikas vs Nottingham Forest:

• 12 ball recoveries (1st)

• 4 interceptions (1st)

3 tackles won (=1st)

• 1 big chance created (=1st)

• 1 assist (1st)

It was trademark Diogo Jota. Most of the game it felt like he was having an off night, but he finished the chance off to give his side the crucial lead. It was Jota in a nutshell. That was his 19th strike in all competitions for the club this season. Remarkable.

° Another clean sheet. The late effort by Forest was repelled with the Liverpool backline remaining resolute. It was a fifth consecutive away clean sheet as the back five all put in a solid shift. The shutout was the Red’s 12th in their last 17 fixtures in all competitions.

° Gomez impresses at right back. Gomez’s lack of minutes is well documented but he stepped in at right back last night and played well. He marauded down the right flank and posed a threat going forward. Nobody attempted more shots (3) or registered more shots on target (2) than the 24 year old.

He also registered the most touches (91) for the Reds and completed the joint most clearances (3). If he can find his radar when crossing, he’ll be an even better option in Alexander-Arnold’s injury enforced absence. He has a tendency to put too much height on his crosses at times.

Defensively he was sound, as he kept Johnson relatively quiet and showcased that recovery pace of his once or twice. If he can stay fit, he should get a few more games till Trent recovers from injury. Minutes are hard to come by at centre back, so a spell at right back could be the next best thing.

° What’s next? The win set up a tasty showdown with Manchester City at Wembley on the 16th of April, barely a week after the mouthwatering title decider at the Etihad. April is going to be era defining! The international break will offer us two weeks of rest right now before the fight to the death commences.


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