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Another semifinal in a domestic tournament, another exit for Liverpool.
Much like their fate in the Capital One Cup, the Reds were eliminated in the semifinals of the FA Cup on Saturday, falling to Aston Villa, 2-1. While the Reds switched formations in the game, often looked a bit befuddled and received disappointing performances from some of their biggest stars, Aston Villa were solid defensively for most of the contest and were scintillating on the counter as they pulled off the upset.
Goals from Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph were the difference for Villa, while Philippe Coutinho scored Liverpool’s lone tally.
Liverpool opened the game playing three in the back but appeared flat in the formation and quickly made changes, as Tony Barrett of The Times noted:
It appeared to initially make a difference, however, as Liverpool opened the scoring in the 30th minute.
After Aston Villa failed to clear the ball in their own box, Raheem Sterling dinked a little pass to Coutinho, who split three Villa defenders with a brilliant touch-and-run and chipped the ball over Shay Given. Replays would show Coutinho’s shot took a deflection off a defender, but the setup and run were still well constructed.
It was Coutinho’s third goal in his last five FA Cup games.
Just six minutes later, however, Aston Villa would have their equaliser. Delph made an excellent run down the left and ripped a low cross into the box, where Benteke was waiting and calmly passed the ball past Simon Mignolet, who was able to get his fingers on the shot but couldn’t make the save.
Benteke has been in scintillating form of late, so the fact that he scored the goal shouldn’t be terribly surprising to anyone. He’s scored nine goals in his last seven games for Villa and has basically been the team’s offense, as WhoScored.com tweeted:
Of course, this goal was very much about Delph, per Ben Smith of BBC Sport:
Delph would again be the hero a little under 10 minutes into the second half, as Aston Villa struck on the counter. Benteke sent a lovely backheel to Jack Grealish, who found Delph in the box. Delph did the rest, taking a deft first touch that freed him from his defender, cutting in on his right foot and ripping home Villa’s second goal.
As Matt Dickinson of The Times tweeted, Villa exposed a Liverpool side that simply didn’t look themselves for much of the contest:
Steven Gerrard, who had a pretty rough game and looked rusty throughout, had the opportunity to level the proceedings with a free kick just outside of the box in the 80th minute. However, his curling effort dipped into the middle of goal where Given was able to make the routine save.
Kieran Richardson then preserved the lead for Villa in the 86th minute off a corner, as Gerrard headed toward the far post but Richardson was stationed there and cleared the ball to safety. Mario Balotelli found the back of the net a minute later. He was adjudged to be offside, though, which replay showed to be the incorrect call, and the goal didn’t stand.
Liverpool continued to press until the final whistle but Villa held on. For Aston Villa, a date in the FA Cup final against Arsenal awaits, while Liverpool are now looking at the possibility of no trophies this season and a finish outside of the top four in the Premier League, keeping them out of the Champions League next campaign.
Christian Benteke, Aston Villa: A-
Benteke is red-hot at the moment, and his goal was a pure striker’s tally, as he very calmly passed the ball into an open net. He was threatening throughout, holding up play on the counter and making dangerous runs that kept Liverpool’s makeshift defense on their toes. If Villa pull off another upset and defeat Arsenal in the final, it will likely be due to Benteke lighting up the Gunners.
Steven Gerrard, Liverpool: C-
And so Gerrard will leave Liverpool trophy-less in his last season with the club. While that’s a disappointing result for the captain, he was certainly a part of the problem for Liverpool in this contest. He just never seemed to shake off the rust or offer a true threat, and even his passing was less than crisp at times.
Ed Malyon of the Mirror seemed to sum up the sentiment of the day for Gerrard:
It certainly seems that way. And that’s a disappointing way for Gerrard to go.
Fabian Delph, Aston Villa: A
Delph was nothing short of brilliant on the day. His run and assist on the Benteke goal was phenomenal, and he also sparked the second goal with a through ball to Balotelli before taking a brilliant touch to set himself up on his right foot and clinically finishing. Without question, Delph was the best player on the pitch in this one.
Mario Balotelli, Liverpool: D+
Balotelli just doesn’t bring much to Liverpool when he enters a game. He was consistently offside, he didn’t capitalize on the chances he had and he never really seemed to be much of a threat once he was subbed into the contest. It’s hard to imagine Liverpool don’t have serious buyer’s remorse at this point.
Jack Grealish, Aston Villa: A-
Grealishpulled the creative strings for Villa for much of the afternoon, as his incisive passes sliced open Liverpool’s defense and eventually helped lead to Delph’s goal. Benteke and Delph will receive the majority of the plaudits, but Grealish had himself an afternoon.
There are going to be questions for Liverpool to answer after this performance and likely after this season, as Richard Keys of beIn Sports tweeted:
Still, canning Rodgers hardly seems the answer, as footy writer Wayne Veysey noted:
For at least this afternoon, however, Liverpool simply weren’t good enough on the pitch. Maybe that comes down to tactics. Maybe that comes down to a disappointing effort in the transfer market. Maybe the players simply blew it.
Whatever the case may be, Liverpool’s exit in this contest is a bitter disappointment for the proud club.
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s central bank on Sunday cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves, the second industry-wide cut in two months, adding more liquidity to the world’s second-biggest economy to help spur bank lending and combat slowing growth. The People’s Bank of China lowered the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for all banks by 100 basis points – the deepest single reduction since the depth of the global crisis in 2008. Below are changes in China’s required reserve ratios and benchmark interest rates since 2006. …
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In this edition of “Furry Friend Finder,” CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock and Diane Macedo introduce us to Noni and Arabella, who are looking for homes.
You can get to know them better by watching the video above.
Every Sunday morning around 8:20 on the CBS 2 news, The Humane Society of New York features some of its many great pets up for adoption.
Here you can keep track of which furry friends are still looking for homes, and which ones have been adopted by a loving family. The Humane Society of New York is located at 306 E. 59th St. near Second Avenue.
A preacher is found brutally murdered in a Tennessee motel room.
A beautiful, mysterious young girl is accused.
In this bestselling debut, criminal defense lawyer Joe Dillard has become jaded over the years as he’s tried to balance his career against his conscience. Savvy but cynical, Dillard wants to quit doing criminal defense, but he can’t resist the chance to represent someone who might actually be innocent. His drug-addicted sister has just been released from prison and his mother is succumbing to Alzheimer’s, but Dillard’s commitment to the case never wavers despite the personal troubles and professional demands that threaten to destroy him.