Date: 8th April 2015 at 11:47pm
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Liverpool booked a date with Aston Villa in the semi final of the FA Cup at Wembley, after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.

Philippe Coutinho struck the winner with 20 minutes remaining, as the Reds bounced back from back-to-back defeats to Manchester United and Arsenal in the Premier League.

Brendan Rodgers is now just two victories away from his first trophy as Liverpool boss, but his side were made to work right until the end by their Championship opponents.

Rodgers went with a back four for the first time since mid-December, with Glen Johnson and Dejan Lovren coming into the side in place of Lazar Markovic and Kolo Toure.

The latter was called upon sooner than expected however, as Mamadou Sakho limped out of the action with a suspected hamstring injury.

The French defender had been twice involved previously, first recovering well to make a challenge on Craig Conway after a miscommunication between himself and Simon Mignolet on the edge of the box, and then again as he failed to get tight to Blackburn striker Jordan Rhoders immediately after pulling up with the injury – fortunately the header from the Blackburn forward was off target.

That was as close as Blackburn came to breaking the deadlock in a first half which saw the Reds dominate possession, but fail to create many clear cut openings.

Daniel Sturridge had a long range curler tipped over the bar, whilst Philippe Coutinho saw his deflected effort turned wide through a crowd of bodies, by Blackburn keeper Simon Eastwood.

It was opposite number Simon Mignolet who was called into the first major action of the game however, producing two excellent saves just moments after the restart.

The Belgian first tipped a long range effort from Tom Cairney around the post, before dramatically tipping a header from Ben Marshall onto the post following the resulting corner. Replay’s indicated the ball took a slight nick off the arm of Joe Allen on it’s way towards goal, but referee Kevin Friend was unsighted.

Brendan Rodgers side looked to take control of the tie after that, yet despite plenty of endeavour there were no real clear cut chances.

It took a fine piece of play between Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho to break the deadlock, with the pair exchanging a quick one-two following a cleared corner on the right hand corner of the box.

Coutinho took the ball on following the first time pass from his skipper, and drove a perfect angled shot across Eastwood in off the post.

The response from the players and the supporters behind the goal said it all, and thankfully there were not too many more nerve-shreading moments to come, with Dejan Lovren and Kolo Toure particularly impressive in the heart of the Reds defence.

Joe Allen took a tumble in the box with minutes remaining, but referee Friend was unmoved once more – despite the protests from Brendan Rodgers on the touchline.

It was left to the two goalkeepers to have the final say, with Eastwood pushing forward for a long throw in the final minute. The ball broke to the Blackburn goalkeeper just inside the box, who controlled and got a shot in on goal – however it was straight down Mignolet’s throat, who gathered at the second attempt.

That signalled the final chance on what proved to be a tense evening. The Reds head to Wembley on Sunday week, knowing a victory against relegation threatened Aston Villa will set up an FA Cup final meeting with either Reading or Arsenal – on the day of Steven Gerrard’s 35th birthday.


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