A fine header from Diogo Jota, a low drive from Takumi Minamino and a superb finish from Harvey Elliott hauled Liverpool into round five of the FA Cup, in which Norwich City will visit Anfield.
Cardiff, making nine changes from their midweek win at Burnley, battled hard, but class eventually told.
In a slow first half, Cardiff’s five-man backline did well to deny Liverpool space, forcing them to play too slowly. Nevertheless, both Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones missed chances – though Cardiff might have had a penalty when Ibrahima Konate ran through Mark Harris.
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Though Liverpool did not play much better after the break, when they earned a free-kick down the right on 53 minutes, Trent Alexander-Arnold curled over a typically inviting cross, and Jota used its pace and direction to guide a finish inside the far post.
One goal looked certain to be enough, but on 68 minutes, Liverpool made sure, terrible errors from Aden Flint and Perry Ng allowing Luis Diaz, on off the bench for his first appearance since arriving at Anfield in the transfer window, to set up Minamino for a low drive.
Then, with 14 minutes to go, Elliott marked his return from injury with a lovely goal- his first for the club - before Rubin Colwill’s expert intervention gave the away fans a moment to enjoy. But it’s Liverpool who go through – and they look nicely set to improve a spotty recent record in the domestic cups.

TALKING POINT - Klopp taking cups seriously

This is only the second time that Liverpool have made round five under Jurgen Klopp. It may be a coincidence, but the feeling persists that he's taking the domestic cups more seriously this season, and with good reason.
His excellent side are nearing the end - the better players are past their best - and the rebuild has begun. But, though their league and Champions League wins are not to be sneezed at, they'll feel they're better than having just two trophies to show for their efforts. And with Man City looking certs to retain the title and Europe never a banker, it makes sense for Liverpool to target the domestic knockouts.
Already in the League Cup final - they'll be favourites to beat Chelsea - they now look nailed on for the FA Cup quarters, and few would bet against them bringing both back to Anfield.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Diogo Jota (Liverpool)

Not many candidates and Jota himself wasn't that good, but he almost opened the scoring with a delicious piece of skill in the first half, then did so in the second thanks to a tremendous header.


Liverpool: Kelleher 5, Alexander-Arnold 6, Konate 6, Van Dijk 7, Tsimikas 7, Henderson 6, Keita 6, Jones 6, Minamino 7, Firmino 6, Jota 7. Subs: Elliott 7, Diaz 6, Robertson 6, Thiago 6, Milner 6.
Cardiff: Phillips 6, Denham 6, Flint 6, McGuinness 5, Ng 6, King 5, Pack 5, Vaulks 5, Bagan 5, Harris 6, Collins 6. Subs: Colwill 7, Hugill 6, Davies 6, Doyle 6.


4’ - JOTA SHOULD SCORE! I didn't expect him to miss that - he's been so assured in front of goal since arriving at Anfield. But here he is, taking a touch to control Keirta's pass then finding a gloooorious touch to meg Denham, right up behind him; he's in! But instead of passing a finish by Phillips, he drives straight at him and the 'keeper makes a decent save he should never have smelled!

19’ - PENALTY SHOUTS FROM THE AWAY END! Harris cuts inside and into the box, cleverly steps in front of Konate, and Konate runs through him! The ref and VAR say nothing doing, but that was very, very close if you ask me. He was nowhere near the ball and played the man, so I'm not sure what else we're seeing.

53’ - GOAL! Liverpool 1-0 Cardiff City (Jota) This is a terrific piece of work, Alexander-Arnold sticking decent pace on the free-kick to pick out Jota in the middle of the box with a flat cross, and he leaps well, using the delivery and angle to nod down and across, into the far corner.

68’ - GOAL! Liverpool 2-0 Cardiff City (Minamino) Disaster for Cardiff! Liverpool move it down the left, and when the ball comes into the box, both Flint and Ng daydream of a better world, leaving it to each other. So Diaz nips in, robs the latter, wriggles along the by-line and slides a cut-back for Minamino, who has so much time to advance onto it despite the defenders between him and it. He duly powers Liverpool into round five.

76’ - GOAL! Liverpool 3-0 Cardiff City (Elliott) Elliott is back! This is a lovely effort too, moving onto Robertson's cross as McGuinness slips, taking a fine first touch that sets the ball nicely ... for him to swivel an excellent shot across Phillips and into the far corner! That’s his first goal for the club!

80’ - GOAL! Liverpool 3-1 Cardiff City (Colwill) Cardiff win it in midfield and Davies oozes down the left, waiting until the perfect moment to guide a fine pass square, with the outside of his foot, for Colwill ... who takes a touch then, with very little backswing, punishes a low drive past Kelleher! Bedlam behind the net!

Key Stat

Trent Alexander-Arnold now has 15 assists this season in all competitions, the most by any Premier League player in 2021-22, as well as the joint-most he's ever managed in a single season (15 in 18-19 and 19-20).
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