Liverpool late show knocks Arsenal out of FA Cup
LONDON (AFP) - Liverpool survived an Arsenal barrage to claim a place in the FA Cup fourth round in dramatic fashion as a pair of late goals sealed a 2-0 win on Sunday.
While Kevin De Bruyne's long-awaited return for Manchester City in the holders' 5-0 rout of Huddersfield was a memorable moment on Sunday, it was Liverpool's victory in the blockbuster third round clash at the Emirates Stadium that stole the spotlight.
Jurgen Klopp's side rode their luck for long spells as Arsenal wasted a series of chances before Polish defender Jakub Kiwior headed Trent Alexander-Arnold's free-kick into his own net with 10 minutes left. Luis Diaz wrapped up the smash and grab raid in stoppage-time.
Liverpool's first FA Cup win over Arsenal since the 2001 final was a significant moment as the Premier League leaders inflicted a psychological blow on one of their main title rivals. Arsenal have now won only once in their last six games in all competitions, an unexpected stumble that leaves them out of the FA Cup and League Cup and five points behind Liverpool in the title race.
No wonder Klopp celebrated with such gusto at the final whistle, pumping his fists in acknowledgement of a victory that could springboard Liverpool's bid to win four trophies. "In the end we came through. I'm really happy we could win this game. Arsenal could have won it without a doubt. We finished it off and it spoke for the character of the boys," Klopp said.
The Reds, who drew 1-1 with Arsenal in the Premier League in December, face Fulham in the League Cup semi-final first leg in midweek and are also through to the Europa League last 16. "The performance was there and the amount of chances too. We just have to win the game, but we lost it and we are not capitalising," Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta said.
Klopp was without Mohamed Salah and Wataru Endo, who are competing at the Africa Cup of Nations and Asian Cup respectively, and the ill Virgil Van Dijk. Martin Odegaard should have rewarded the Gunners for their vibrant start, but the midfielder blasted his shot off the bar from 12 yards. Ben White's thunderous strike from just inside the area forced a superb tip-over from Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker.
Liverpool ride their luck
By the time Kai Havertz wasted two good opportunities in quick succession, Arteta must have feared Arsenal would pay for their profligacy. Arteta held his head in frustration as Bukayo Saka volleyed over from a dangerous position. Liverpool finally came to life and Luis Diaz's snap-shot was well saved by Aaron Ramsdale, while Diogo Jota hit the woodwork.
In the 80th minute, Alexander-Arnold's free-kick was headed into his own net by Kiwior and Diaz sealed the win in final seconds of stoppage-time as he took Jota's pass and fired home from 10 yards. Manchester City midfielder De Bruyne had been sidelined since tearing his hamstring during the Premier League opener against Burnley in August.
He finally got back in action as a 57th minute substitute in City's emphatic victory over Championship strugglers Huddersfield at the Etihad Stadium. Pep Guardiola's side were leading by goals from Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez when the 32-year-old was introduced.
City netted three more times through Ben Jackson's own goal, another Foden effort and a Jeremy Doku strike on his return from injury as a second half substitute. Fittingly, Doku's goal was set up by a deft lofted pass from De Bruyne. City have stayed afloat without De Bruyne, but his world-class quality in midfield will be a key factor in their bid to retain the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.
"We are incredibly delighted to have him back because Kevin helps to win games. Kevin is exceptional. He is unique," Guardiola said. Premier League strugglers Luton were held 0-0 by third tier Bolton at Kenilworth Road. Nottingham Forest were also given a scare by League One opponents as Nuno Espirito Santo's men recovered from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Blackpool. West Ham were held to a 1-1 draw against second tier Bristol City at the London Stadium.