Liverpool’s hopes of lifting a trophy this year went down the drain as they suffered a shock defeat in FA Cup fourth round by West Ham United in a nail-biting thriller.
Angelo Ogbonna was the man who buried a powerful header into the net from Dimitri Payet’s free kick and provided Steven Bilic XI progression into the fifth round of FA Cup. The header came in the dying minutes of extra-time, seconds away from a penalty shootout. Both teams competed with similar resilience in the fixture; however, Liverpool will be fretting over the missed opportunities, particularly in the first half.
THE BRAZILIAN SHINES ON HIS RETURN:
Philippe Coutinho made a fantastic come back to the Liverpool side, causing imminent trouble with his feet to the West Ham defence. He also scored the equaliser for Liverpool in the opening minutes of the second half. He may have had a few more goals to his tally, but the missed opportunities did no good to him or his team at the end of the day. It may not have been his best performance, but at least, the “cute” free kick goal will serve as a confidence booster for his return.
WEST HAM’S BRICK WALL:
Undoubtedly, Dimitri Payet is to be credited for West Ham’s successes this season. Again, the Frenchman was the involved in both the goals West Ham scored. He played a slick pass to Valencia, who then curled a cross into the path of Antoni, resulting in a goal. Payet has been the curator for West Ham throughout the season, providing six goals and a further six assists in all competitions. He also assisted the winner in the match with a well-directed free kick to keep West Ham’s hopes up high in FA Cup.
A HOPE STILL ALIVE FOR THE REDS:
Sturridge came on to replace Coutinho in the 59th minute. His return is marked by a new spring of hope for Liverpool because his presence at the front took Liverpool attack to the next level. Klopp might just wonder “So this is what we were missing.” The truth is Sturridge provides the creativity and lustre, making life difficult for the defenders. Although Liverpool’s FA Cup hopes are gone, the loss could serve as a catalyst for an undivided attention towards Premier League.
Liverpool has been short of goals for most of the season and is still battling their way into the top four in Premier League. Sturridge’s excellent comeback will give them some inspiration to go for the top four and qualify for next year’s Champions League.
Bought for 32.5 million pounds to cover up for Sturridge, Benteke has failed to capitalise on the opportunity to make a name for himself. He started the game with Coutinho as his striking partner. The Belgian forward was provided with numerous opportunities, particularly, in the first half but the misery of his goalless run continues. With seven shots on target, Benteke had a fair chance to turn himself into a hero at Boleyn Ground, London by bringing some magic into the game for Liverpool. Instead, the striker’s curse continued upon him, and he remained goalless, more or less, due to his poor shooting efforts. He had a fantastic opportunity in the first half to shoot a half volley into the net but parried it wide, frantically, summing up his season’s performance.