Ross Barkley said it was “a dream” to score against Liverpool as the midfielder helped Chelsea reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. The result meant Liverpool suffered their second successive defeat of this stellar season in a highly-competitive encounter at Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool made seven changes to the side that lost surprisingly at Watford on Saturday – the first reverse of their league campaign after 18 successive victories left them on the brink of a first title for 30 years. Chelsea, however, still had to overcome a Liverpool team containing the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane, Andy Robertson and Joe Gomez in a hard-fought fifth-round tie.
Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian gifted Willian Chelsea’s opener after 13 minutes when he hopelessly fumbled his 20-yard shot, but the European champions had chances of their own only to see recalled keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga present a formidable barrier with a string of saves. The game was effectively settled after 64 minutes when former Everton midfielder and Toffees fan Barkley surged from inside his own half on a solo run before beating Adrian with an emphatic strike.
“It was brilliant, a massive result for the lads,” Barkley told BBC One. “We needed a top performance tonight at home after two disappointing results. “Scoring against Liverpool is massive for me. As an Everton fan, it’s always a dream to score against them.” The hosts could have had more but Mason Mount rattled the crossbar with a 25-yard free-kick, before striker Olivier Giroud saw an effort brilliantly tipped on to the woodwork by Adrian.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard will now have Wembley in his sights while Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp returns to the task of wrapping up the Premier League title and overcoming a 1-0 deficit from the Champions League last-16 first leg against Atletico Madrid.