Match report: Reds exit FA Cup with defeat at Chelsea

Liverpool were eliminated from the FA Cup at the fifth-round stage with a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.

Willian opened the scoring for the Blues on 13 minutes, with Adrian unable to keep out his drive from the edge of the area.

Ross Barkley doubled their lead midway through the second period when he fired in after a run from deep on the counter-attack, ending the Reds’ involvement in the tournament for 2019-20.

Team news…

Liverpool made seven changes for the tie, with only Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson, Fabinho and Sadio Mane retaining their places from Saturday’s defeat at Watford.

Joe Gomez returned from injury in defence, while there were also starts for Divock Origi, Adam Lallana and Takumi Minamino, as well as Curtis Jones and Neco Williams.

The action…

Liverpool got the game under way in west London aiming to get back on track following the weekend reversal at Watford.

They almost fashioned the perfect start, too. Lallana stood up a delivery into the centre, where Mane controlled and struck, only for Kepa Arrizabalaga to repel with just three minutes on the clock.

At the other end, Williams produced a crucial intervention to prevent Pedro from getting a shot in on goal before Cesar Azpilicueta glanced inches wide from the subsequent corner.

Barkley then warmed the palms of Adrian with a crack from range as the open start to the contest continued.

On 12 minutes, the home side fashioned a clear opening when the ball rolled into the path of Willian inside the box. His stinging drive was thwarted by a reflex save from Adrian.

However, a minute later, the goalkeeper couldn’t keep out the Chelsea No.10’s thump from the edge of the area as the hosts made the breakthrough.

A curling Marcos Alonso free-kick went close to increasing Chelsea’s advantage, but the ball skimmed the roof of the netting.

Then, on 20 minutes, Liverpool were left clutching their collective heads in their hands as Kepa saved at point-blank range from Mane, Origi and Jones in quick succession following a scramble inside the area.

The Chelsea custodian denied Mane once more soon after, with Williams swiping an awkward rebound off target as the Reds continued to increasingly impose themselves on proceedings.

Still, Frank Lampard’s men held onto their advantage into the interval – but the opening exchanges of the second period followed a similar pattern of play to that of the latter of the first, with the visitors pressing hard for a leveller.

Nevertheless, substitute Mason Mount scooped a free-kick onto the top of Adrian’s crossbar just after the hour.

Chelsea did increase their grip on the contest on 64 minutes, however, when Barkley surged forward from deep on the counter and beat Adrian with a crisp drive from the edge of the box.

Pedro spurned the opportunity to make it 3-0, having a shot saved by the boot of the Reds’ ‘keeper after he had gone clean through from the halfway line.

James Milner and Roberto Firmino were sent on for Origi and Jones with 20 minutes remaining, but only a stunning save from Adrian from Olivier Giroud prevented Liverpool from falling further behind as the game ticked into its final quarter of an hour.

Firmino headed wide from a corner, but the Reds could not find a way through as Chelsea held on to confirm their elimination from the competition.

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