Harvey Elliott scored on his return to action as Liverpool eventually overcame Cardiff City at Anfield on Sunday to head through to the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The Reds were made to work hard by the Championship side but second-half goals from Diogo Jota, Takumi Minamino and Elliott saw them run out 3-1 winners, the second assisted by debutant Luis Diaz.
Steve Morison’s Bluebirds spent the majority of the game defending but were well organised and frustrated Liverpool for large periods, and Rubin Colwill grabbed a consolation goal to delight the travelling Welsh fans.
The fifth-round draw was made before the game and Jurgen Klopp’s side will host Norwich City next up.
Cardiff started brightly but it was Liverpool who should have been ahead early on after a clever turn from Jota ended with the Portugal international firing straight at Dillon Phillips.
The Premier League side struggled to break down a stubborn visiting defence and had to wait until the 34th minute for their next big chance as a nice move down the left ended with Minamino finding Curtis Jones, who hit his effort high into the Anfield Road End.
Liverpool were finally ahead in the 53rd minute as a Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick was expertly glanced past Phillips’ dive to his right by Jota.
There were big cheers again shortly after as Elliott and Diaz were brought off the bench by Klopp, and the Colombia international played a big role in Liverpool’s second as he dispossessed Perry Ng before pulling the ball back for Minamino to fire home.
Elliott joined in the action as he fired a shot in at the Kop end after an Andy Robertson cross fell to him, before Colwill pulled one back with an equally impressive finish with 10 minutes to go.
15 – Trent Alexander-Arnold has recorded his 15th assist of the season across all competitions; this is the most by any Premier League player in 2021-22, as well as the joint-most for Alexander-Arnold in a single season of his career (also 15 in 18-19 and 19-20). Pinpoint. pic.twitter.com/2Ko3DWVIWV
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 6, 2022
What does it mean? Reds still in the hunt for four trophies
The fourth round of the FA Cup has not been kind to Klopp since his arrival in England.
In their six previous campaigns under the German, Liverpool have been eliminated at this stage on four occasions – more than any other side in the competition in this time.
However, they march on after a win here and remain as one of only two Premier League sides, along with Chelsea, who can still win at least four trophies this season.
Who needs Salah and Mane?
Liverpool had 82 per cent of possession in the first half but failed to carve out many meaningful chances.
The pressure told early in the second half, though, and this now makes it five wins out of six in all competitions since star duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane left for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Bluebirds must now sing in the league
Morison can be pleased with the effort of his team at Anfield, especially considering he made eight changes to the team that beat Barnsley last time out.
However, now their FA Cup journey is over they must find a way to show the same determination in the Championship, where they sit in 20th spot, nine points ahead of Peterborough United in the relegation zone but having played a game more.
Liverpool host Leicester City in the Premier League on Thursday while Cardiff are at home to Peterborough in the Championship on Wednesday.