Chelsea moved into the last eight of the FA Cup as they handed Liverpool a second successive defeat, beating the runaway Premier League leaders 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
Having lost for the first time in the league this season at Watford on Saturday, another trip down south saw the Reds suffer a further setback in an otherwise outstanding season.
Willian got lucky in the 13th minute as he benefited from an Adrian error to give the home side an early lead in the first meeting of the teams in the competition since the 2012 final.
The Blues doubled their advantage in the second half courtesy of Ross Barkley, though not before the recalled Kepa Arrizabalaga had kept a much-changed Liverpool at bay.
Recalled to the starting XI, the world’s most expensive goalkeeper pushed his case to stay ahead of Willy Caballero, including making three saves in the space of four seconds to deny Sadio Mane, then Divock Origi and finally Curtis Jones.
Adrian had produced a reactionary stop to deny Willian with the game still scoreless, only to concede straight after as Liverpool gave the Brazilian a second opportunity.
Fabinho lost possession to allow his compatriot to take aim again, his firm drive catching struck a poorly positioned Adrian and spun away from him into the net.
Scorer Willian was forced off early after the break through injury, with Chelsea having already lost Mateo Kovacic, though they put the game beyond their opponents in the 64th minute.
Allowed to travel with the ball from halfway, Barkley opted to take on a shot from just outside the penalty area that flashed beyond Adrian’s dive.
Mason Mount and Olivier Giroud both hit the crossbar – the latter denied by Adrian’s finger tips – but two goals were enough to see Chelsea progress, ending any thoughts of a domestic double for Jurgen Klopp’s Reds.
What does it mean? Reds run out of ideas A curious FA Cup campaign that has seen Liverpool field 32 players comes to an end, then. After the youngsters prevailed against Shrewsbury in the previous round, a more recognisable line-up failed to fire in London, meaning it is now three defeats in four in all competitions. They failed to manage a shot on target in the second half as Chelsea comfortably secured a place in the quarter-finals.
Picked to play in the holding role in midfield, Billy Gilmour produced a superb performance that belied both his age and lack of experience. The 18-year-old completed 77.6 per cent of his attempted passes, made two tackles and also created a chance for the hosts.
A tale of two goalkeepers
Adrian was the hero against Chelsea on his Liverpool debut, saving Tammy Abraham’s penalty to secure the European Super Cup, but will not want to relive his part in Chelsea’s opener. In contrast, compatriot the returning Kepa made five saves – more than in any of his 24 league appearances this term.
Key Opta Facts
– Chelsea have won seven of their 11 FA Cup meetings with Liverpool – on each of the last two occasions they’ve beaten them (1997 and 2012) they’ve gone on to win the competition.
– Liverpool have been eliminated in three of their last five FA Cup fifth round ties, losing at this stage for the first time since February 2014 (2-1 v Arsenal).
– Liverpool have lost three consecutive away games in all competitions for the first time since November 2014.
– Willian has scored 24 goals from outside the box since his Chelsea debut in September 2013, 13 more than any other Blues player.
– Barkley scored his first ever goal against Liverpool on his 12th appearance, before today he had played more games against them (11) without scoring than against any other team.
Liverpool will hope to move a step closer to the Premier League title when they host Bournemouth on Saturday, with a Champions League last-16 second-leg clash against Atletico Madrid looming on the horizon. As for Chelsea, they have a reunion with Carlo Ancelotti on Sunday, as Everton visit Stamford Bridge.