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Sunday, 19 February 2012

Liverpool rout Brighton 6-1 to enter FA Cup quarters

Liverpool: Liverpool thoroughly outclassed Championship outfit Brighton 6-1 in the FA Cup on Sunday to progress to the sixth round, with three own goals from the visitors helping the hosts on their way.

The home side set up another Cup tie at Anfield against fellow Premier League side Stoke City and continued on their way to a second final at Wembley.

Three own goals certainly helped the score-line rise throughout the game, but it was Martin Skrtel who opened the scoring, heading in from a Steven Gerrard corner. A fabulous free kick from Kazenga LuaLua stunned the hosts before the Reds restored their lead just before the break with Liam Bridcutt helping Glen Johnson’s header on its way into the net.

Another Bridcutt own goal and one from Lewis Dunk, as well as a great strike from Andy Carroll saw the tally rise to five, before a saved penalty from Luis Suarez denied Liverpool a sixth, but the Uruguayan headed in from close range to make up for his miss.

It was a perfect start for the hosts, as Liverpool went ahead with the first chance of the game. A corner was conceded by Brighton following a dangerous shot and Steven Gerrard stepped up to the set piece. The skipper sent his kick towards the front post, where Skrtel was waiting to pounce and headed in with ease.

Brighton, coached by former Uruguay and Chelsea midfielder Gus Poyet, cancelled out Liverpool’s fourth-minute opener after a splendid low free kick from LuaLua. Striking from 25 yards out, the midfielder drove the ball underneath the defensive wall and Pepe Reina struggled to get to the ball as it skidded into his corner.

The Reds came close to restoring their lead after Stewart Downing followed a ball into the box and struck from close range, but the winger’s goal-bound effort was cleared in a timely fashion by a well-positioned Brighton defender, who did enough to rid the danger from the line.

Luis Suarez came alive halfway through the first period to test Peter Brezovan on two occasions, both forcing action out of the goalkeeper and his defence, and earned Liverpool a couple of set-pieces.

As the break loomed, Liverpool began to turn the screw even further and eventually took the lead for the second time after a scrappy affair in the Brighton box. A corner arrived in the area and was poorly dealt with by the Seagulls’ defence, allowing Suarez to shoot freely, the Uruguayan’s effort bouncing off of Ashley Barnes on the line and falling to Johnson, who headed in at the back post.

Brilliance from Liverpool saw the hosts produce a two-goal buffer between themselves and Brighton. Tenacious work down the left flank from Downing saw the winger get past his man and cut the ball back for the waiting Carroll on the penalty spot, the big man clipping the ball home for the hosts’ third of the evening and his eighth of the season.

A defensive mix-up between defender and goalkeeper saw Brighton concede a fourth after Liverpool broke down from the centre of the park. The mistake sees the Seagulls give the ball away in their own box and the Liverpool skipper pounced on the loose ball and got to the by-line after an initial effort was blocked, but his second was kicked into the roof of the net by Bridcutt, whose game proceeded to get worse after netting his second own goal of the game.

Captain Gerrard had been in the action all night and the skipper was rewarded by in effect getting Liverpool’s fifth of the evening. The midfielder, racing to a defensive mix-up, got to the loose ball to have an initial effort before trying again from the by-line, and his effort was poked into the roof of the net by Dunk.

All of Liverpool’s chances looked to be producing goals and when a penalty was awarded to the home side, it looked certain that one more would be added to the tally. Substitute Dirk Kuyt was brought down by Craig Noone and Suarez stepped up to the spot, but the Uruguayan couldn’t make the effort count and after a goal-line scramble, the ball was cleared.

However, lackadaisical defending by Brighton soon allowed for the next goal to come. The Seagulls made a mess of a cross into the area and Suarez popped up to head a sixth for the hosts from close range.

Liverpool thus warmed up for next weekend's League Cup final against Cardiff by joining Sunderland, Bolton, Everton and Leicester in the quarter-finals.

Stoke, who lost 1-0 to Manchester City in last season's final, will meet Liverpool next.
"It is a great achievement by the football club to have made a third successive quarter-final appearance," Stoke manager Tony Pulis said. "We're one win away from Wembley again."


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