With pre-match headlines largely focused on star talisman Mohamed Salah having picking up an injury at AFCON, the attention was diverted away from the job in hand at Bournemouth for Liverpool. Liverpool’s form would suggest a comfortable outing for the Reds, having defeated Arsenal and Fulham in back-to-back cup fixtures. Bournemouth, on the other hand, would have the advantage of a longer rest and fresher side having not played a league match since New Year’s Eve.
BOU: Neto, Aarons, Zabarnyi, Mepham, Hill, L Cook, Christie, Tavernier, Kluivert, Sinisterra, Solanke
LIV: Alisson, Bradley, Konaté, van Dijk, Gomez, Elliott, Mac Allister, Jones, Díaz, Jota, Núñez
Liverpool were a largely frustrated entity in the first half and resorted to shots from a distance. Alexis Mac Allister, Darwin Núñez and Luis Díaz all tried their luck, but none hit the mark – either going wide or straight at Neto.
Klopp’s half-time team talk seemed to have worked wonders as Liverpool came out of the break firing on all cylinders. The Bournemouth backline was left wide open when Diogo Jota slipped it through to Núñez, and the Uruguayan composed himself and side-footed it past the keeper.Embed from Getty Images
Conor Bradley nearly had his first goal for Liverpool after a ball fell to him from a corner – and while his strike looked destined to squeeze past Neto, the goalkeeper somehow fought through a crowd of bodies to keep the scoreline at just the solitary goal.
On the 70th minute, Liverpool doubled their lead. Núñez fought for a loose ball and it was substitute Cody Gakpo who gathered it and put Jota through on goal. The angle was against the winger with a defender closing him down, but it didn’t make a difference to him as he placed it in at the near post.
Ten minutes later, the Portuguese forward had his second. A ball came into the box and when his initial miscue faked out the defenders, he used the distraction to pounce and fired it in across the keeper.
David Brooks had a chance to salvage some honour for the home side when he was through one on one with Allison, but his attempted chip went well wide of the post.
Liverpool were still hunting for more in stoppage time and were rewarded for their efforts. Gomez whipped in an excellent ball and Núñez got between the two Bournemouth defenders stretching for the ball ahead of them, hitting it off the post and over the line to round off the victory.
Liverpool travel to Craven Cottage next in the second leg of their Carabao Cup semifinal, and after cruising past Bournemouth today, they’ll be full of confidence. Bournemouth will be disappointed with the lack of fight shown in Sunday’s encounter, and will want to put that right as they host Swansea in the FA Cup 4th Round.