AFC BOURNEMOUTH 1 LIVERPOOL 3
LIVERPOOL boss Brendan Rodgers insists Raheem Sterling could prove the solution to the club’s goalscoring woes after last night firing the Reds to a Capital One Cup semi-final showdown with old foes Chelsea.
Sterling missed a host of presentable chances against Manchester United on Sunday but his double, together with a Lazar Markovic strike, saw Liverpool dismantle Bournemouth’s 12-game unbeaten run, despite Dan Gosling’s reply for the Championship table-toppers.
Liverpool have endured a wretched season so far and lurched from Premier League decline to Champions League elimination, but on a night when Rodgers had to answer critics of his own, he believes Sterling succeeded in doing likewise.
“A lot of focus has been on him and he may not have scored the goals that some people expect, but I expect him to create goals and score goals over the course of the season,” said Rodgers. “His best position is on the left, dipping inside, but I played him in that position [central striker] because I think he can play it, and he certainly has the qualities to do it.
“Raheem has got some stick recently which I find incredible. Last season he was a young kid playing up top with some world-class players. This season, he hasn’t got that and that’s the reality.”
Sterling notched his first goal since September after 20 minutes, nodding past Artur Boruc following Jordan Henderson’s header across the six-yard box.
Markovic was instrumental in Liverpool’s opener and triggered his scoring account in English football shortly before the half hour mark by side-footing home in composed style from 18 yards after Boruc had denied Philippe Coutinho.
Bournemouth had their moments in the attacking third, although 12-goal leading scorer Callum Wilson poked wide after dancing through the Liverpool backline early on, while French forward Yann Kermorgant blazed a gilt-edged opportunity over the bar.
Sterling’s slaloming run and clinical finish past Boruc made it three before Gosling became Bournemouth’s first goalscorer against Liverpool in 88 years by drilling through the grasp of keeper Brad Jones, with the former Everton midfielder also rattling the woodwork inside the final 20 minutes.
Liverpool have a favourable recent record against Chelsea in the League Cup, winning three of their last five ties, although the Stamford Bridge club’s victory over the Reds in the 2005 final ushered in a trophy-laden first spell in charge in west London for Jose Mourinho.