Liverpool confirmed a Capital One Cup semi final against Chelsea, after a convincing 3-1 victory away to Championshop leaders Bournemouth.
Raheem Sterling ended his run of 17 games without a goal with two decent finishes, whilst Lazar Markovic netted his first goal for the club following his £20million move from Benfica in the summer.
Bournemouth midfielder Dan Gosling pulled one back for the hosts in the second half, and also struck the woodwork as Liverpool came under some late pressure.
But overall Brendan Rodgers side were good value for the win, which sees them face Premier League leaders Chelsea over two legs for a place in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley.
Rodgers fielded a strong team for the trip, sticking with the 3-4-3 formation that had been deployed at Old Trafford at the weekend.
The Reds almost found themselves behind after three minutes however, when Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren were both turned easily inside the box, however Cherries midfielder Callum Wilson put his finish wide of the post.
Adam Lallana then forced a fine save from former Southampton teammate Artur Boruc, with a strike from the edge of the box – and from that moment on the Reds started to take control.
The opening goal arrived on 20 minutes, and was the culmination of a 52 pass move. After Sterling and Lallana had played a neat one two on the edge of the box, Lazar Markovic swung in a delightful back post cross. Jordan Henderson – playing at right wing back once more – nodded the ball back across the six yard box, where Raheem Sterling was on hand to glance home his first goal since September.
The performance of Markovic will be seen as a real positive for Brendan Rodgers, after the Serb played a part in the opening goal and then opened his Liverpool account on 27 minutes.
A neat exchange between Sterling and Philippe Coutinho saw the Brazilian force a save from Boruc at his near post. The ball came loose on the edge of the box, and Markovic cooly side footed the ball into the bottom corner to double Liverpool’s lead.
Seconds later Bournemouth could have halved that deficit however, when once again Dejan Lovren was caught out – however the finish from Yann Kermorgant from eight yards out was woeful.
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe changed the formation at the break in the hope of taking control of the midfield, however Liverpool all but killed the game just five minutes after the restart.
The assured Kolo Toure fed Adam Lallana, and the 26-year-old picked out Sterling with a well weighted pass forward. Sterling took the ball in his stride, beat the last defender and cooly finished to make it 3-0.
The 20-year-old has five goals in all competitions this season, and will head into Sunday’s crucial clash with Arsenal high on confidence after a man of the match display.
As expected, Liverpool had to withstand some pressure from the Championship leaders. Former Everton midfielder Dan Gosling made it 1-3 on 57 minutes with a shot that Brad Jones will feel he should have done better with.
The same player almost made it 3-2 with 20 minutes on the clock, but his curling effort from the edge of the box struck the woodwork.
Sterling then wasted a glorious chance for his first Liverpool hat-trick, scuffing the ball wide at the back post after a superb flick from the impressive Adam Lallana.
But Brendan Rodgers will take plenty of positives from a performance and result that was much needed after what has been a nightmare eight days for the Reds.