Liverpool outclassed Arsenal on Thursday night to seal their place in the Carabao Cup final.
The hosts made a bright start, with Gabriel Martinelli causing problems down the left and pinning Jurgen Klopp’s side back. The Gunners were almost rewarded just five minutes in, with Alexandre Lacazette seeing his dipping free kick tipped onto the crossbar by Caoimhin Kelleher after Bukayo Saka was tripped on the edge of the box.
Joel Matip saw a tap-in ruled out for offside before the Reds took the lead against the run of play after 19 minutes. Although the finish wasn’t pretty it was fine individual work from Diogo Jota, who collected Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pass, nutmegged Takehiro Tomiyasu and sent a low, mis-hit shot beyond Aaron Ramsdale.
Lacazette spurned an excellent chance to equalise early in the second period, lifting his effort high over the bar after being picked out by Albert Sambi Lokonga’s smart pass over the top. Youngster Kaide Gordon missed an even better opportunity at the other end two minutes later, skying a shot in acres of space inside the box.
It was Liverpool’s turn to strike the woodwork just before the hour mark as substitute Ibrahima Konate’s header came back off the post, before Takumi Minamino’s goal-bound effort was blocked by Ben White and Andy Robertson fired a shot across the box and wide.
Alexander-Arnold and Jota combined again to kill the game in the 77th minute. The England international’s long ball was expertly controlled on the chest by Jota, who lifted a sumptuous finish over the onrushing Ramsdale. The strike was initially ruled out for offside, but that decision was overturned by VAR.
Arsenal had run out of steam by that point, but Martinelli did go close with a fine half-volley that sailed over the bar.
There was still time for Thomas Partey to be sent off just minutes after being introduced having returned early from the Africa Cup of Nations. The Ghanaian was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on Fabinho.
Liverpool will face Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on 27 February.
Aaron Ramsdale (GK) – 5/10 – Watched Jota’s weak shot roll agonisingly past him. Bit hasty for the second.
Takehiro Tomiyasu (RB) – 4/10 – Nutmegged and beaten too easily by Jota moments before the opening goal. Looked generally rusty. Booked.
Ben White (CB) – 6/10 – Solid to a point but should perhaps have done more to stop Jota getting his second.
Gabriel (CB) – 5/10 – Not at his best, looked ponderous on the ball and was tormented by Jota.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – 6/10 – Energetic as ever, but unlike his opposite number his end product lacked somewhat.
Albert Sambi Lokonga (DM) – 6/10 – Gave a good account of himself. Pass to Lacazette deserved an assist but the Frenchman was wasteful.
Emile Smith Rowe (CM) – 4/10 – Not up to his usual standard in a deeper role. Ruined a good-looking counter attack with a sloppy pass, for example. Subbed.
Martin Odegaard (CM) – 7/10 – In imperious form. Some wonderful touches, body swerves and turns. Couldn’t make the difference, though.
Bukayo Saka (RW) – 5/10 – Didn’t have much joy down his wing as Robertson kept him at arm’s length.
Alexandre Lacazette (ST) – 4/10 – His free kick thumped the bar early on. Booked for a late challenge. Missed a great opening early in the second period – lifting the ball over – before being subbed.
Gabriel Martinelli (LW) – 6/10 – The catalyst for Arsenal’s fast start. Faded afterwards, though.
Eddie Nketiah (ST) – 5/10 – Didn’t really get a sniff off the bench.
Thomas Partey (CM) – N/A – Somehow managed to pick up two yellows despite only being introduced with 16 minutes left to play.
Caoimhin Kelleher (GK) – 7/10 – Top save to tip Lacazette’s free kick onto the bar. Read a couple of situations well and was out in good time to sweep up.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) – 9/10 – TWO more assists, playing an inch-perfect pass into Jota for the first. Even better long ball for the same man for 2-0. Passing and set-piece delivery out of this world.
Joel Matip (CB) – 5/10 – Saw his early tap-in ruled out for offside. Some indecision almost proved costly. Maybe the reason he was subbed at half-time.
Virgil van Dijk (CB) – 7/10 – Actually looked a bit laboured in the first period. Solid if untested, and got the clean sheet.
Andy Robertson (LB) – 7/10 – Marauding as ever. Some wicked deliveries and went close with a good effort.
Fabinho (DM) – 7/10 – Brilliant sliding challenge to deny Martinelli a clear sight of goal inside the penalty area. Very solid at the base of Liverpool’s midfield.
Jordan Henderson (CM) – 6/10 – Unspectacular night’s work but got through plenty of passing and won five duels. Subbed.
Curtis Jones (CM) – 6/10 – Perhaps guilty of taking too many touches at times. Worked hard though and kept his side on the front foot.
Kaide Gordon (RW) – 5/10 – Looked slightly out of his depth in the first half. Really should have made it 2-0, skying a great chance inside the box. Subbed.
Roberto Firmino (ST) – 6/10 – Lovely flick in the build-up to the opener. Didn’t do all that much but put himself about.
Diogo Jota (LW) – 9/10 – Clutch once again. Dazzling run and nutmeg before seeing his mis-hit strike sneak beyond the keeper for 1-0. Brilliant chest control and finish for his brace.
Ibrahima Konate (CB) – 6/10 – Introduced at half-time for Matip. Unlucky to see his header hit the post. Booked.
Takumi Minamino (RW) – 5/10 – Spurned a good chance. Booked.
James Milner (CM) – N/A
Neco Williams (RB) – N/A