Rediff.com  » Sports » Soccer PICS: Jota puts Liverpool in League Cup final; Barca out

Soccer PICS: Jota puts Liverpool in League Cup final; Barca out

January 21, 2022 09:21 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

Liverpool's Diogo Jota celebrates scoring their second goal against Arsenal in their League Cup semi-final second leg match at Emirates Stadium in London on Thursday

IMAGE: Liverpool's Diogo Jota celebrates scoring their second goal against Arsenal in their League Cup semi-final second leg match at Emirates Stadium in London on Thursday. Photograph: Ian Walton/Reuters

Diogo Jota's double earned Liverpool a comfortable 2-0 win at Arsenal in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final on Thursday, setting up a Wembley showdown against Chelsea.

 

Arsenal chiselled out a 0-0 draw at Anfield last week despite playing most of the first lead with 10 men after Granit Xhaka's early red card, but all that sweat and toil ultimately counted for nothing.

Liverpool, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita still away on African Nations Cup duty, came under early pressure and Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette hit the woodwork with a free kick.

But a flowing Liverpool move in the 19th minute ended with Jota's shot creeping inside the post.

Arsenal lacked conviction after that and Jota secured Liverpool's passage with a neat finish in the 77th minute -- the goal initially ruled offside but allowed after a VAR check.

To cap a dismal night for Arsenal they had Thomas Partey sent off for a second yellow after a late foul on Fabinho.

Liverpool will be seeking a record ninth League Cup triumph when they face Chelsea who secured their spot with a 3-0 aggregate victory over Tottenham Hotspur last week.

"We are really happy, the mood in the dressing-room is over the moon," Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said.

"The first half Arsenal were lively and so were the crowd but we calmed it down. We scored two wonderful goals."

When Lacazette's clipped free kick forced Liverpool keeper Caoimhin Kelleher to touch the ball against the crossbar the mood among the Arsenal fans was hopeful.

But Liverpool soon began to hit their stride and the opening goal was the result of real quality.

From deep inside their own half, Liverpool worked the ball out to Trent Alexander-Arnold via a silky flick by Roberto Firmino. Alexander-Arnold fed Jota who skipped inside Takehiro Tomiyasu before deceiving Aaron Ramsdale with a shot that rolled slowly into the corner.

The goal knocked the stuffing out of Mikel Arteta's side and Liverpool looked comfortable thereafter, although Lacazette did have another chance but lashed his effort over.

Liverpool youngster Kaide Gordon wasted a glorious opportunity to add to Liverpool's lead and substitute Ibrahima Konate's header thumped against the foot of the post.

Arsenal still had hope of turning things round but that was snuffed out when right back Alexander-Arnold floated a pass to Jota who chested the ball down before dinking a delicate finish past Ramsdale.

"Diogo Jota is already a fantastic player, the numbers speak for themselves," Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk said.

"He is very important, he has shown it from last year and a difficult striker/winger to play against. I know it from training. He has stepped up tonight again."

Holders Barcelona knocked out of Copa del Rey by Athletic

Athletic Bilbao's Inigo Martinez celebrates with teammates after beating Barcelona in their  Copa del Rey Round of 16 match in San Mames, Bilbao, Spain, on Thursday

IMAGE: Athletic Bilbao's Inigo Martinez celebrates with teammates after beating Barcelona in their Copa del Rey Round of 16 match in San Mames, Bilbao, Spain, on Thursday. Photograph: Vincent West/Reuters

Holders Barcelona were knocked out of the Copa del Rey after suffering a 3-2 defeat in extra-time at Athletic Bilbao in the last 16 on Thursday as their difficult season continued.

Athletic dominated a thrilling match and went ahead early thanks to a beautiful cross-shot from Iker Muniain who curled the ball past Marc-Andre ter Stegen into the top corner.

Former Manchester City forward Ferran Torres equalised for Barca with a brilliant right-foot strike from the edge of the area, his first goal for the club.

Inigo Martinez put Athletic back in front after 86 minutes, winning a challenge against Gerard Pique to score, but Pedri netted a fine goal in stoppage time to send the game into extra-time.

Man-of-the-match Muniain scored the winner with a penalty after the video assistant referee spotted a handball from Jordi Alba inside the area.

Athletic joined Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, Valencia, Real Betis, Rayo Vallecano, Mallorca and Cadiz in the quarter-finals. The draw will take place on Friday.

Barcelona's disappointing campaign took another turn for the worse.

Eliminated at the Champions League group stage, they lost to Bilbao in a repeat of last year’s final which they won 4-0 and two of their most promising players, Ansu Fati and Pedri, were substituted due to injury.

"We will see on Friday what they have but it is worrying how Ansu Fati left the game," Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez told a news conference.

"We knew that it would be a though game and I'm proud my players fought and gave their best. We still have La Liga and Europa League to fight for and we'll do it until the end."

Hazard extra-time goal sends 10-man Real Madrid through

Real Madrid's Eduardo Camavinga and Elche's Gerard Gumbau vie for possession

IMAGE: Real Madrid's Eduardo Camavinga and Elche's Gerard Gumbau vie for possession. Photograph: Pablo Morano/Reuters

Ten-man Real Madrid overcame a hostile atmosphere and fought back from a goal down in extra-time to beat Elche 2-1 on Thursday and reach the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.

Following a scoreless 90 minutes, Elche took the lead with a free kick earned with Real down to 10 men after Marcelo was sent off for a foul on Tete Morente.

Experienced defender Gonzalo Verdu struck the free kick into the wall but his second effort deflected off Dani Ceballos and wrong-footed goalkeeper Andriy Lunin before ending up in the back of the net.

Real grabbed the equaliser when Isco deflected a Ceballos shot inside the box and substitute Eden Hazard scored the winner on a counter-attack after receiving a through ball from David Alaba, rounding the goalkeeper and finishing into an empty net.

The match ended in controversy as Elche found the net in the last minute of extra-time, but the referee disallowed the effort for a foul in the build-up.

After the long trip home from Saudi Arabia where Real won the Spanish Super Cup final against Athletic Bilbao 2-0 on Sunday, manager Carlo Ancelotti rested several first-team regulars.

"It's a big accomplishment to come-from-behing down to 10 men," Real defender Nacho Fernandez told reporters.

"It was a long game but they have defended really well. We are happy. We fought until the end, even with adversity. I think we deserve to advance."

Real Madrid joined Real Sociedad, Valencia, Real Betis, Rayo Vallecano, Mallorca and Cadiz in the quarter-finals.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
Source: REUTERS
© Copyright 2022 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

IPL 2022

IPL 2022