Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 9th 2015 Contents A57
Thursday, April 9, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Playmaker Philippe Coutinho was Liver-
pool s FA Cup saviour again as his solitary
goal beat Blackburn 1-0 to book a Wembley
semifinal with Aston Villa.
The Brazil international pulled a last-minute
stunner out of the bag to beat Bolton at the
second attempt in the fourth round and scored
a less spectacular, but arguably far more impor-
tant, goal with plenty of time to spare in a
replay against Blackburn, another Championship
Two days ago, in the wake of the crushing
4-1 defeat to Arsenal which put a huge dent
in the Reds Champions League hopes, Coutinho
had claimed: "Winning the cup would save our
And after his side had toiled for 70 minutes,
he took it upon himself to keep that dream
alive with a drilled finish after a swift interchange
with Jordan Henderson.
It booked the seven-time winners a 24th FA
Cup semifinal with only Arsenal (27), Man-
chester United (27) and Everton (25) having
appeared in more.
The match was far from pretty. But with
Wembley tantalisingly close it was about getting
the job done, and Coutinho rose above all others
to add the piece of class which did just that.
Blackburn s chances had been talked down
due to the injury crisis which had effectively
reduced them to 11 fit men, with 16-goal striker
Rudy Gestede, nursing a hamstring injury, on
the bench for emergencies.
But having already dispatched Premier League
opposition in Swansea and Stoke, they were
in no mood to roll over.
They attacked the game as they had against
previous top-flight sides, looking to utilise
pace on the flanks against a reconstituted Liv-
erpool back four after suspension denied them
the services of Martin Skrtel and Emre Can.
Mamadou Sakho, whose involvement lasted
just 28 minutes before succumbing to a ham-
string injury, dithered long enough to allow
Craig Conway to nip behind him, forcing the
France defender to concede a corner with a
hurried recovery tackle.
Rovers top scorer Jordan Rhodes missed his
first chance of the night when he flashed over
a header after getting between Sakho and
Dejan Lovren far too easily.
Liverpool only started to get a grip on the
game late in the first half with Daniel Stur-
ridge s 19th-minute left-footed shot onto the
roof of the net an isolated threat.
Coutinho then forced Simon Eastwood to
turn his shot behind and overlapping full-
back Glen Johnson gave the Rovers keeper an
easy chance to collect with the final action
before the interval.
With Liverpool s momentum broken, Black-
burn came on strong again and Tom Cairney s
long-range shot a minute after the break had
Simon Mignolet at full stretch.
The Belgium international produced an even
better save to tip Marshall s header from the
resulting corner onto a post.
Gestede arrived just past the hour and
brought new life out of strike partner Rhodes,
whose shot was blocked by Kolo Toure, but
the goal the game was crying out for came
with 20 minutes to go.
Coutinho s corner failed to clear the first
man but the ball came back to the Brazil inter-
national who played a quick one-two with
Henderson before drilling an angled low shot
through a crowded six-yard box and inside
the far post.
Sturridge briefly came alive, clipping a shot
wide, before being replaced by Rickie Lambert
who, in his first appearance since March 4,
should have scored with his first touch but
headed Henderson s free-kick wide.
Having conceded as many goals (six) in
their previous 180 minutes and they had in 12
matches prior to that an 11th clean sheet in
20 fixtures secured Liverpool s passage.
However, they were indebted to Mignolet
once again who, at the second attempt, held
on to counterpart Eastwood s shot after he
had charged upfield for a stoppage-time throw-
in.A top-four place may ultimately prove to be
beyond Liverpool---trailing Manchester City by
seven points with seven games to go---but a
first piece of silverware for Brendan Rodgers
would provide some consolation. (AP)
BARCELONA---Luis Suarez netted two goals
after Lionel Messi opened the scoring to
guide Barcelona to a 4-0 victory over Almeria
yesterday, keeping the pressure on Real
Madrid in the Spanish league title race.
Barcelona s 20th win in 21 games in 2015
lifted it seven points clear at the top of the
table before Madrid visits crosstown rival Rayo
Messi undid Almeria s defense with a curling
shot to open the scoring in the 33rd minute
at Camp Nou.
Suarez struck from near the same spot with
a blistering shot in the 55th and scored again
in stoppage time after Marc Bartra had added
a goal of his own.
Barcelona now faces a demanding two-
week stretch with league games against Sevilla
and Valencia, along with a Champions League
quarterfinal against Paris Saint-Germain. Else-
where, bottom-side Cordoba drew 1-1 at 10-
man Deportivo La Coruna to end a 10-game
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique rested sev-
eral first-choice players, including Neymar
and Andres Iniesta, to prepare for the run of
But his side still dominated possession and
created scoring chances throughout, although
Almeria s defensive strategy to pack its area
limited the hosts to a pair of timid strikes
until Messi broke through.
Almeria appeared to have Messi under con-
trol when he received the ball pegged to the
right sideline. But Messi made one move to
shed a defender, and once inside the area
wasted no time in bending an unstoppable
left-footed strike around goalkeeper Julian
Cuesta. Messi s goal was his 44th in 43 games
in all competitions this season. It took his
tally in the league to 33, second only to Madrid s
Cristiano Ronaldo with 36.
Suarez also continued his strong scoring
run over the last two months by recording
his 15th and 16th goals in 31 games.
Suarez s first goal also included him receiving
a seemingly harmless ball on the right side.
But just like Messi, Suarez dribbled past one
Almeria player and then unleashed a left-foot
shot that Cuesta got a hand to but couldn t
Bartra s headed goal from a corner in the
75th was the team s third goal in as many
games from a set piece, an area the Catalan
club struggled at before the arrival of Luis
Enrique this campaign.
Suarez completed the rout after Pedro
Rodriguez drew Cuesta off his line and set up
Suarez to steer the ball into the open net on
the break. (AP)
PARIS---Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat
trick as Paris Saint-Germain thrashed
Saint-Etienne 4-1 to reach the French
Cup final yesterday.
Ibrahimovic took his PSG career tally to
102 goals since joining three years ago, and
Argentina winger Ezequiel Lavezzi added
the other goal as the capital side advanced
to meet Auxerre in the final.
PSG took the lead in the 21st minute
from the penalty spot after right back Fran-
cois Clerc brought down Lavezzi and
Ibrahimovic sent goalkeeper Stephane
Ruffier the wrong way.
Saint-Etienne winger Romain Hamouma
equalized four minutes later, heading in
fellow winger Yohan Mollo s left-wing
PSG regained the lead in the 60th when
Lavezzi headed in Javier Pastore s superb
cross from the right.
Ibrahimovic scored his second in the
81st and struck again in injury time.
Lazio eases past
Napoli in Naples
NAPLES---A late goal from Senad Lulic
gave Lazio a 1-0 victory over Napoli yes-
terday and a place in the Italian Cup final
Lazio advanced 2-1 on aggregate and
will seek its third title in the last seven
years in the June 7 final at its home sta-
In the 79th minute, Lulic was left
unmarked to steer home a cross from Felipe
Anderson from inside the box.
Napoli argued in vain that Lazio forward
Miroslav Klose was offside at the start of
Juventus overcame a first-leg deficit with
a 3-0 win at Fiorentina on Tuesday.
Earlier, last-place Parma beat Udinese
1-0 in a Serie A match that was postponed
from February, when crisis-hit Parma was
unable to provide basic stadium services
like lighting and security
bach crashed out of the German Cup on
penalties against third-division Arminia
Bielefeld won the shootout 6-5 after
holding the third-place Bundesliga team
to a 1-1 draw over 90 minutes and then
extra time. The winners reached the semi-
finals for the third time after 2005 and
2006, when it was still in the top tier.
Moenchengladbach s Raffael shot wide
and Ibrahim Traora had the decisive penalty
saved as the third-division leader advanced.
Manuel Junglas put Bielefeld ahead in
the 26th and Max Kruse equalized from
the penalty spot in the 32nd.
Bielefeld had already eliminated Bun-
desliga sides Werder Bremen and Hertha
as PSG cruises
Messi, Suarez score as Barca blasts Almeria
Coutinho's goal sees
Liverpool into FA semis
Blackburn's Lee Williamson, left, fights for the ball against Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho during
the English FA Cup sixth round replay soccer match between Blackburn and Liverpool at
Ewood Park Stadium, Blackburn, England, yesterday. AP PHOTO
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