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Alisson Becker was the spot-kick hero as Liverpool secured another penalty shoot-out triumph against Chelsea to win the FA Cup and keep their quest for an unprecedented quadruple alive.

Just 76 days after the Reds edged past Thomas Tuchel’s men on penalties following a scoreless Carabao Cup final, Wembley witnessed another gripping clash between these sides that went down to the wire.

Nothing could split them after 90 minutes and extra time again, with Alisson coming up trumps in the shoot-out as Liverpool won their first FA Cup since 2006.

Edouard Mendy prevented Sadio Mane striking the winner after Cesar Azpilicueta had hit the post, only for the Brazil goalkeeper to deny Mason Mount before Kostas Tsimikas struck to seal a 6-5 win.

While the quadruple may eventually prove out of reach given Manchester City’s Premier League advantage, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds still have a shot at Champions League glory to come as a superb season heads towards a memorable conclusion.

Wembley was rocking to Liverpool’s beat at full-time, just as it was in the opening minutes as they flew out the blocks.

But Chelsea saw out the early storm and began to ask questions at the other end in a first half that saw Reds star Mohamed Salah limp off injured.

Marcos Alonso’s audacious free-kick hit the bar during a rampant Chelsea start to a topsy-turvy second period, which ended with Luis Diaz and Andrew Robertson striking the post for Liverpool.

That pulsating half made way for a tepid period of extra time between exhausted sides that raised themselves for penalties, which ended with red smoke and Liverpool cheers filling the air.

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek capped his impressive comeback with a first Chelsea goal since May 2019 as the Blues defeated Crystal Palace 2-0 to reach their third successive FA Cup final.

Loftus-Cheek’s thunderbolt finish dragged the Blues out of a sluggish performance and into a 16th FA Cup final, with Mason Mount’s angled effort sealing the deal.

England midfielder Loftus-Cheek spent the 2017-18 season on loan with the Eagles, even forcing his way to the World Cup after his campaign at Selhurst Park.

But the 26-year-old showed no split loyalty in dumping his former side out of England’s premier cup competition.

Loftus-Cheek’s first Chelsea goal since the 1-1 Europa League draw with Eintracht Frankfurt on May 9, 2019 spurred the Blues on past their clear fatigue and into yet another final.

Chelsea relinquished their Champions League crown despite beating Real Madrid 3-2 at the Bernabeu Stadium on Tuesday night, only exiting the European stage 5-4 on aggregate and after extra time.

That fourth period of extra time in a punishing season took its clear toll as Chelsea struggled to hit their usual straps against Patrick Vieira’s well-organised and talented Eagles.

Just when Vieira’s men started to threaten an upset, however, up popped Loftus-Cheek with a powerful drive.

Chelsea nerves finally settled, Mount quickly latched onto Timo Werner’s inside ball and slotted home to kill the contest.

Loftus-Cheek excelled in a hybrid role mixing right wing-back and midfield in Chelsea’s 6-0 thrashing of Southampton and that vainglorious win in Madrid.

But at Wembley the Chelsea academy graduate was forced into action in defensive midfield, after Mateo Kovacic sustained an ankle problem in the early exchanges.

And this opportunist finish showcased another side of his talents, for a man who suffered a nasty torn Achilles in a friendly match at New England Revolution in Boston on May 16th, 2019.

Loftus-Cheek has only just this season started to hit his full straps again after an operation to repair that Achilles, and subsequent back concerns.

His match-turning strike here therefore certainly deserves to be seen as a major turning point in his Stamford Bridge career.

Chelsea’s midweek exploits carried a clear toll on the sluggish Blues, who could not drive the tempo or the rhythm in a staccato first half.

Thomas Tuchel’s men simply did not move the ball quickly or crisply enough, allowing Palace to shut them out through regimented defending and relatively high pressing.

Losing the influential Kovacic did not help matters, with the Croatia star unable to run off an early blow.

The Eagles even had the best chance of the half, when Cheikhou Kouyate’s volleyed drive forced Edouard Mendy into a fine save.

Joachim Andersen struck a post with the rebound but was clearly offside in any case.

Kai Havertz was booked for a blatant dive in Chelsea’s low point of the half, the Germany forward taking a tumble in expecting a challenge from Marc Guehi that never came.

Werner should have opened the second half with at least a shot on target but was muscled out by Kouyate when sent in on goal by Loftus-Cheek’s flicked pass.

Chelsea could not build on that opening however, and Kouyate nodded a corner the wrong side of the post after Wilfried Zaha had turned Andreas Christensen inside out.

The Blues had to pull something from nowhere, and Loftus-Cheek’s thunderous strike certainly appeared from precious little.

Tyrick Mitchell was robbed deep in his own half and Chelsea refused to waste that gift of possession.

Havertz’s deflected cross fell kindly for Loftus-Cheek, and he lashed home.

His exuberant celebrations in punching the air and launching himself off the ground exhibited as much relief as elation.

Mount quickly doubled Chelsea’s lead with a fine angled finish into the corner of the net to kill the tie and cement the Blues’ path to yet another FA Cup final.

Substitute striker Romelu Lukaku struck a post from point-blank range after Werner’s pass, but by that point the miss did not matter.

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Liverpool kept their bid for an unprecedented quadruple on track as their 3-2 FA Cup semi-final win also ended Manchester City’s hopes of a treble.

England’s top two teams served up another epic encounter but, having drawn 2-2 in the Premier League just six days ago, Jurgen Klopp’s side deservedly came out on top at Wembley.

It was not without a little help from City’s number two Zack Steffen, their designated cup goalkeeper, whose huge first-half error with the score at 1-0 contributed to the game getting away from them.

But that should not take away from the excellence of Liverpool who were as brilliant in the first half as they were passive in the opening 45 minutes at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Man of the match Sadio Mane scored twice to add to Ibrahima Konate’s opener as they raced into a 3-0 interval lead.

Goals from Jack Grealish, early in the second half, and Bernardo Silva, in added time, ensured Liverpool were never as comfortable as they wanted to be but, despite some concerted late City pressure, the seven-time winners booked a 15th final appearance.

Both sides made seven changes from their midweek Champions League games but the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, an unused substitute after requiring stitches in a foot wound, appeared the most significant considering how the Belgium international had dominated proceedings last weekend.

Klopp retained centre-back Konate, midfielder Naby Keita and forward Luis Diaz from the midweek draw with Benfica, and they were the only three players who had not featured in the starting line-up at the Etihad on Sunday.

A minute’s silence to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy, when 97 Liverpool fans were killed at an FA Cup semi-final, was brought to an abrupt and premature end when some City fans chose to sing through it and were met with a chorus of boos from Reds supporters.

City subsequently apologised but by the time they had issued a statement their team were already 2-0 down.

Klopp’s team selection was perhaps influenced by their first half six days ago when they were lacklustre and allowed City to dominate.

There was no repeat with Keita providing the legs which were previously missing and Mane, in particular, pushing the press higher and faster.

It allowed City no time to settle, and they found themselves in the unfamiliar position of being dominated from a possession and territorial point of view.

Guardiola’s over-complicated formation, with Raheem Sterling as a false nine but particularly Grealish floating behind the front three, left them lacking in midfield, and it was clinically exploited by Liverpool.

Their first goal, however, came from an increasingly familiar source with Konate heading home from an 11th-minute corner for his third opening goal in as many games, escaping marker Gabriel Jesus at the Reds’ first corner and outjumping Nathan Ake.

If that was bad from City’s point of view what came next was abysmal.

John Stones’ backpass to Steffen looked simple enough but, unlike first-choice Ederson last week, whose coolness under pressure on his own goalline avoided a goal at the Etihad, the United States international was far too ponderous.

His delay was so long it allowed Mane to close him down and put in a tackle which forced the ball over the line.

If that was a deserved reward for the Senegal international’s tireless work-rate his second moments before the break was testament to his enduring quality.

With players from both sides massed on the edge of City’s penalty area, Thiago Alcantara’s vision and technical ability saw him chip a cheeky pass around the blockade for Mane to hit a brilliant, sliced volley which beat Steffen at his near post.

City’s response came just 75 seconds after the interval when they capitalised on Andy Robertson’s loss of possession to release Jesus down the right, with the Brazilian cutting inside his international team-mate Fabinho to tee up Grealish to lash home.

When Jesus threatened again Alisson Becker was forced to save at his near post and with more than half an hour remaining the game was far from over.

Fernandinho, who this week announced he is leaving at the end of the season, had struggled with the pace of the game as City’s only genuine holding midfielder and was fortunate to only be booked for a late, sliding lunge on Mane.

Jesus was proving to be City’s most dangerous threat but, when played through by Grealish, his unconvincing shot was turned behind by Alisson, while at the other end Steffen was grasping at thin air after Oleksandr Zinchenko left a headed backpass short but Salah could only loft a shot into the side-netting.

Silva’s close-range finish in the first of four added minutes cranked up the tension but, despite a couple of even later scares, Liverpool clung on.

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Pep Guardiola wants his side to return injury-free from the international break but played down talk of Manchester City’s chances of winning the treble.

Phil Foden scored a stunning strike as City booked their place in the FA Cup semi-finals with a 4-1 win over Southampton at St Mary’s on Sunday.

Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne (penalty) and Riyad Mahrez were also on target for the visitors, with Aymeric Laporte’s own goal levelling the scores just before half-time.

Guardiola believes winning the treble would not be an easy feat, and remains focused on the more short-term goals of his side.

“How many times has it happened in this country? Once in this lifetime, once. It’s not easy, I would love to tell you it’s not easy,” the Manchester City manager said.

“It’s better to hopefully pray that the players come back from the national teams fit because it’s tough to fight, fight, fight for many things.

“Now the players have 15 days off and they arrive (back) two days before they have to play Burnley, Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, then Atletico Madrid.

“When you have 10 points clear to the second (placed team in the Premier League) with three games to play and are in the finals of the Champions League and the FA Cup, after (that) we can talk about that (the treble).

“But in the position that we are (in) it’s far, far away (from the treble), the best intention is to be focused on Burnley.”

Guardiola admitted that everyone needs a break, with City not due to play again until April 2 against Burnley after they secured an enticing FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool at Wembley.

“We are there so I think everyone needs a little break, to not see each other for a while would be good, to see new faces for the manager, some players will go on holiday for one week,” Guardiola said.

“And after we come back we know what we have, we have the quarter-finals of the Champions League, we have the Premier League, we have the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

“The nice thing for the team is that fact, the last few weeks of the season and we are fighting for it, we are there for the titles and this is so nice.

“I would have signed (up for that) at the start of the season – to be here in front of you, in the later stages, in this position. We’ll see what happens.”

Ralph Hasenhuttl also is welcoming the international break, as his side head into it on the back of four successive defeats in all competitions.

“The international break always comes at a good time. It is an intense time. It is good to have,” the Southampton manager said.

“(We will) recover. Recharge the batteries. We have nine games to go.

“(We) have work to do to finish as high as possible. We need this break now to get a bit of rest and we come back with full batteries ready to go.”

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Phil Foden’s stunning strike capped off a dominant Manchester City performance as they booked their place in the FA Cup semi-finals with a 4-1 win over Southampton at St Mary’s.

Pep Guardiola’s side had failed to win either Premier League game against the Saints this season, but their emphatic victory kept them on course for a treble.

Raheem Sterling had handed the league leaders an early advantage, tapping home in the 12th minute, but it was cancelled out by Aymeric Laporte’s own goal just before half-time.

The hosts fought hard with the scores level, but were deflated when Kevin De Bruyne’s 62nd-minute penalty restored City’s lead.

City’s performance was capped off by a well-struck left-footed shot from the edge of the box from Foden in the 75th minute, with Riyad Mahrez also putting his name on the scoresheet three minutes later.

Southampton started brightly and almost had an early breakthrough when Adam Armstrong was played in behind the City defence, but his slightly scuffed shot rolled back off the far post.

Moments later Manchester City took the lead, when Sterling scored his first goal since February 15.

Jack Stephens failed to clear his lines, allowing Gabriel Jesus to attack the loose ball and play in Sterling in the centre of the box, and the England forward made no mistake slotting home via a slight deflection off Tino Livramento.

Fraser Forster had to be alert in the 27th minute as he made an instinctive diving save to deny Ilkay Gundogan from close range, just managing to tip the ball on to the post before Kyle Walker-Peters cleared the ball away from Jesus.

Oriol Romeu had a chance to level the tie just before the half-time break, but his well-hit effort from the edge of the box was straight at City goalkeeper Zack Steffen.

The hosts did equalise just before the interval when Mohamed Elyounoussi beat the offside trap and saw his effort deflected into his own net by Laporte.

At the start of the second half Southampton worked well to break down City’s attacks and disrupt their playing style, while they had attempts of their own, including a James Ward-Prowse strike from range that Steffen was able to gather.

But just as the home side looked to be on top, Guardiola’s team retook the lead from a spot-kick.

Referee Mike Dean pointed at the spot after Mohammed Salisu brought down Jesus at the edge of the box with a needless foul and De Bruyne dispatched the penalty, beating Forster who had dived the right way.

Southampton came close to levelling the score for the second time, but Steffen was alert to save Che Adams’ effort after he was played in.

Foden all but secured his side’s place in the FA Cup semi-finals with his strike from distance, before the visitors added a fourth with just over 10 minutes remaining when Mahrez fired past Forster.

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Liverpool left it late to book a Wembley semi-final against Manchester City, but Diogo Jota’s 78th-minute goal was enough to end Nottingham Forest’s valiant FA Cup run.

The City Ground has been a graveyard for Premier League sides this season, with Arsenal and Leicester both exiting at the hands of former Reds academy coach Steve Cooper’s entertaining and exciting side.

And, while lesser top-flight teams may have cracked in the red-hot atmosphere, Jurgen Klopp’s team weathered an early storm and bided they time, although almost too long, before Jota’s 19th of the campaign secured a 1-0 victory.

The match hinged on a three-minute spell preceding his close-range strike as Philip Zinckernagel should have set up the biggest shock here yet, only to shoot wide with just goalkeeper Alisson Becker to beat.

Not many sides get given a second chance like that and so it proved as Jota, having scored the crucial first goal in midweek against Arsenal to increase the pressure on Premier League leaders City, struck again.

This was the first meeting between the sides in 23 years and an enthralling encounter was worth the wait as Forest, looking to reach their first FA Cup semi-final since 1991, came flying out of the blocks fired up by a bouncing and confident City Ground crowd.

Liverpool retained a strong spine with Alisson, Virgil Van Dijk, Fabinho and Jota keeping their places from midweek and in the early stages they needed it.

Van Dijk was, typically, a beacon of calm and, knowing what was coming, the visitors looked to take the sting out of the situation and pick off their opponents in the opening stages.

Only Joe Worrall’s superbly-timed tackled denied Jota a good shooting opportunity, while Kostas Tsimikas’ swerving volley dipped just over.

But for all their fervour, Forest, who left 97 seats empty in memory of the victims of the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster during an FA Cup semi-final between the two sides, really only had a Ryan Yates shot deflected wide to show for their efforts.

Fabinho dragged a shot wide from an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain corner, while Roberto Firmino squandered the best opportunity of the half when through one-on-one, his decision to go for a cheeky chipped finish proving the wrong one as Ethan Horvath saved.

In between, Van Dijk showed Forest just how they would have to go up a level if they were to threaten the visitors as Djed Spence, the rampaging right-back who had done so much damage in previous rounds, looked to have space to run into the penalty area only to be comfortably ushered off the ball by the Holland captain.

The half ended with Liverpool, lacking both first-choice full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold (hamstring) and Andy Robertson (illness) having established control in midfield but not in the final third as deputising right-back Joe Gomez blazed over.

Forest started the second half with renewed vigour and Spence’s first real incursion into the area won a corner but nothing more.

Hovath saved comfortably from Jota before Klopp made a quadruple substitution in the 63rd minute, sending on midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Jordan Henderson and forwards Luis Diaz and Takumi Minamino.

With Forest legs tiring, the game appeared to be Liverpool’s for the taking, but it was the hosts who should have seized victory 15 minutes from time.

Van Dijk vacated his position in central defence to carry the ball into midfield only to lose possession and the hosts countered with a two-on-one which saw Zinckernagel shoot wide with only Alisson to beat.

He was made to pay three minutes later as Jota struck his second important goal of the week following Tsimikas’ cross to the far post.

There were some late scares for the visitors when Alex Mighten went down under a challenge from Alisson, but referee Craig Pawson saw no foul and VAR agreed, and then Cafu fired over in added time as Forest went out beaten but unbowed.

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Non-league Boreham Wood’s FA Cup dream was ended by two goals from Salomon Rondon as the Everton striker secured his side a second successive FA Cup quarter-final spot with a laboured 2-0 win at Goodison Park.

The first goals conceded by the Vanarama National League side – 77 places below their top-flight hosts – in this season’s competition were enough to be their downfall with the visiting defence eventually breached by the Venezuelan’s near-post finish in the 57th minute.

A powerful header which Taye Ashby-Hammond, who also made one good, low save from substitute Richarlison, could not prevent from crossing the line guaranteed progress six minutes from time.

Although Richarlison also had a goal ruled out for handball by VAR the Boreham Wood goalkeeper had an easier night that he would have anticipated.

Rondon’s rare double, taking his tally to three in 17 appearances since arriving as one of three summer signings in Rafael Benitez’s ill-fated and short-lived reign, set up a last-eight tie away to Crystal Palace.

Everton had funded a special one-off kit for Boreham Wood, who named the same side which knocked out Bournemouth, to avoid a clash and also paid for the visitors’ travel and overnight stay.

But that generosity was extended to the pitch with a dreadful first half, watched for the first time by Everton’s new director of football Kevin Thelwell.

Ukraine international Vitalii Mykolenko was made Everton captain for the night and there was a poignant pre-match show of solidarity with his homeland as players and officials held a banner reading ‘Imagine all the people, sharing all the world’ – a line from John Lennon’s Imagine which was played over the ground’s public address system.

Everton’s left-back was the first to test Ashby-Hammond but the next challenge did not come until the 36th minute when Anthony Gordon whipped in a low, angled shot which bounced awkwardly in front of the goalkeeper who successfully clawed it away.

The awfulness of the first 45 minutes persuaded manager Frank Lampard to make a half-time change and it was the unfortunate Nathan Patterson, making his debut nearly two months after signing from Rangers, who had to make way for Richarlison.

Mykolenko was first to show again but his driven cross was missed by Rondon, who should then have buried Jonjoe Kenny’s cross but headed over.

Jarrad Branthwaite, one of six changes made from last weekend’s defeat to Manchester City, was spared embarrassment when he passed straight to Tyrone Marsh and was relieved to see the Boreham Wood forward drive a shot just over goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

The growing frustration subsided when Rondon made amends for his earlier failures with a neatly-taken goal after nipping in front of centre-back David Stephens to convert another Kenny cross.

For the second successive home match Everton were on the end of another controversial VAR handball decision, this time denying them a goal, when Richarlison’s close-range effort was chalked off after Adrian Clifton’s attempted headed clearance hit the Brazil international.

But Rondon ensured there was no late drama with a header which was adjudged to have crossed the line before Ashby-Hammond pulled it back.

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Middlesbrough’s reward for knocking Tottenham out of the FA Cup is a home quarter-final against Chelsea.

Boro followed up their fourth-round penalty shoot-out win over Manchester United by deservedly beating Spurs 1-0 after extra time on Tuesday and will now face a third Premier League giant in the last eight.

Chelsea beat Luton on Wednesday and make the long trip north looking to make it back to Wembley for the semi-finals, having been beaten in last season’s final.

Six-time winners Manchester City have been handed a tough draw as they visit Premier League outfit Southampton, while Liverpool – fresh from winning the Carabao Cup on Sunday – are guaranteed Championship opposition after being drawn against the winner of Nottingham Forest and Huddersfield, who play on Monday night.

Crystal Palace will play Everton or Boreham Wood, who battle it out on Thursday, at Selhurst Park.

Ties will be played over the weekend of March 19th and 20th.

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Nottingham Forest ran riot to dump holders Leicester out of the FA Cup.

The Reds demolished last season’s winners 4-1 at the City Ground after three goals in nine first-half minutes.

Philip Zinckernagel and Brennan Johnson scored twice in barely a minute before Joe Worrall made it 3-0.

Kelechi Iheanacho pounced on Brice Samba’s mistake but Djed Spence added a fourth in the second half to wrap up a dominant win.

Under Steve Cooper Forest have lost just four of 23 games, winning 13, but against their East Midlands rivals this will be the most satisfying.

A swashbuckling, intense and stylish display continued their upward trajectory with the former Swansea boss, who has taken them from relegation candidates to promotion hopefuls in just five months.

They can add FA Cup specialists to that list now too having already dumped out Arsenal. A home fifth-round tie with Huddersfield will have the locals dreaming of a first quarter-final since 1996.

The City Ground is now a place of hope, rather than one relying on its history, while Leicester’s season continues to unravel.

In the space of 11 games the Foxes have gone out of the Europa League, the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup and seen the gap to the top six grow from two points to 10.

Success in the Europa Conference League appears to be their best hope of European football next term but Brendan Rodgers has growing problems.

Not least in defence, which folded again after Leicester appeared to have settled at the City Ground.

Iheanacho and Ademola Lookman threatened early yet it was a false dawn as Forest blew them away in a devastating nine-minute spell.

Keinan Davis had already crashed a volley off the bar before Forest snatched two goals in just 87 seconds.

It was Johnson who was crucial to underline his importance to the hosts, who resisted January interest from Brentford.

First, after 23 minutes, his deep cross found Davis to nod down for the unmarked Zinckernagel to steal in between Daniel Amartey and Wilfred Ndidi and fire past Danny Ward.

Leicester then collapsed seconds later when, from the restart, Amartey’s awful back-pass found Johnson and he stroked through Ward’s legs to make it 2-0.

The holders had been obliterated and worse was to follow when they fell further behind after 32 minutes.

Ryan Yates had already missed a fine headed chance before Ward turned Zinckernagel’s shot wide and from Garner’s resulting corner Worrall’s diving header crept in.

But as the hosts celebrated a fan entered the field from the away section before starting to throw punches at the Forest players before being hauled away.

Forest swarmed over Leicester and Spence was denied by Ward, yet the hosts gifted the Foxes a lifeline they barely deserved five minutes before the break.

James Maddison’s cute pass found Iheanacho on the left with Samba inexplicably rushing out of his goal. The striker pushed the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs and finished well from an angle to give the visitors hope.

It completed a breathless half and the next goal was crucial. Patson Daka replaced Barnes at the break and he teed up Maddison to curl just wide eight minutes after the restart before firing over himself.

There was to be no heroic comeback, though, and Spence added a fourth just after the hour when he swapped passes with Zinckernagel to find the bottom corner.

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Teenager Harvey Elliott marked his return from almost five months out with a serious ankle injury with his first Liverpool goal in a 3-1 FA Cup fourth-round win over Cardiff.

The 18-year-old had been sidelined since a fracture dislocation at Leeds in September but marked his comeback with a brilliant swivelled finish in front of the Kop.

Prior to that new signing, Luis Diaz had given Anfield a glimpse of what he can offer with an encouraging 30-minute cameo.

The Colombia international only met his team-mates for the first time on Friday having waited in Paris most of the week for his visa to come through following his move from Porto last Sunday.

But there was no lacking in determination or invention as he played a significant role in the decisive second goal for Takumi Minamino midway through the second half, after Diogo Jota’s 15th of the season had broken the deadlock.

Cardiff substitute Rubin Colwill scored an 80th-minute consolation for the visitors with a smart finish past Kelleher but a place in the last 16 – and a home tie against Norwich – for only the second time in Jurgen Klopp’s reign was never in doubt.

The only concern came late on when Diaz went down holding his knee after Cardiff captain Aden Flint accidentally landed on him – but the 25-year-old was able to finish the game after treatment.

A late run out for midfielder Thiago Alcantara, after six weeks out with a hip problem, and Africa Cup of Nations finalists Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane due back before Thursday’s Premier League visit of Leicester means Liverpool’s contention in four competitions is looking as strong as it has all season.

Strong was not a word associated with Cardiff’s team as they made eight changes from Wednesday’s Sky Bet Championship win over Barnsley, including Oliver Denham for his first start and fellow 19-year-old Eli King, with just 11 minutes of senior football in his career.

But it was Liverpool who looked more disjointed as they played like a team who had not had a game for a fortnight.

Their best chance was their first half after just four minutes when Jota brilliantly nutmegged Denham from Naby Keita’s pass but shot too close to goalkeeper Dillon Phillips.

It set the theme for a first half of poor finishing as, after Minamino’s goal was ruled out for Kostas Tsimikas’ offside, Klopp’s side squandered a number of chances with Curtis Jones, Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold all culpable.

Cardiff had just 19 per cent possession all game but maximised their opportunities and could easily have had a first-half penalty when Mark Harris skipped past Ibrahima Konate out wide only to go down in the area.

Referee Andy Madley appeared to consider the Cardiff forward had unnaturally initiated contact by slowing down and stepping across the path of the recovering defender and VAR did not argue otherwise.

Harris was involved in the second contentious incident moments after the interval when he was brought down by Caoimhin Kelleher 20 yards outside his penalty area.

The goalkeeper escaped with a yellow card thanks only to the proximity of Konate but Cardiff were furious the punishment was not harsher.

Jota’s 54th-minute goal, heading home an Alexander-Arnold free-kick, made things even more difficult and Firmino should have doubled the lead with a header from a similar position – but he could only find the goalkeeper.

Just before the hour Elliott and Diaz were introduced to a rousing welcome before Jota hooked wide what should have been his second goal of the afternoon.

The Colombia international had the perfect introduction as he robbed Perry Ng on the byline as the Cardiff defender dithered on the ball and produced a clever cutback which was missed by Jota but converted by Minamino in the 68th minute.

Elliott marked his return from injury eight minutes later with a brilliant swivelled finish in front of the Kop.

Colwill’s goal was celebrated wildly by Cardiff’s players and significant travelling support. However, it was all they had to cheer on the day.