FA Cup goal drought leaves Liverpool facing Blackburn replay
Bradford and Reading also finished goalless, with Aston Villa the only team to score in their quarter-final
Liverpool 0 Blackburn. It's not going to be remembered as a weekend of classic cup action.
Between them the first three quarter-finals produced a paltry two goals – both of them scored by Aston Villa in their win over West Brom on Saturday. The matches between Bradford and Reading, and Blackburn and Liverpool, finished goalless.
Manchester United host Arsenal in tonight's final tie of the last eight and football fans will be praying for at least a smidgen of excitement.
There was little of that on offer at Anfield on Sunday as Liverpool huffed and puffed but never really looked like blowing down Blackburn's resistance. In total the Reds had 21 shots but only four were on target and never seriously threatened to break the deadlock.
It was no wonder Rovers' manager, Gary Bowyer, was a happy man at the final whistle, relishing not only the chance to cause an upset in the replay at Ewood Park next week but also the bumper revenue heading the way of the Championship side. "You come to Anfield and keep a clean sheet, it's a fantastic achievement from our players," he exclaimed. "A lot of our team are young lads trying to make their way and to come here and have the experience is another massive boost in their development."
Liverpool left out their most experienced player, Steven Gerrard, from the matchday squad and the Reds lost another of their veterans after just two minutes when centre-back Martin Skrtel was stretchered off after a nasty clash with Rudy Gestede. Play was held up for eight minutes as Skrtel was attended to, although Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said later that the Serbian defender was "fine".
But little else was fine for Liverpool as they laboured to breakdown a well-organised Blackburn side enthusiastically supported by 6,000 fans who made the trip to Anfield.
Kolo Toure did put the ball into the net, only for it to be disallowed for offside, and other than Jordan Henderson's sharp volley testing Blackburn keeper Simon Eastwood there were precious few opportunities for the home fans to leap from their seats.
"Blackburn deserve credit," reflected Rodgers. "But my players also deserve credit, they were missing sharpness but they kept going and tried to create chances. It wasn't to be but we will look to get into the semi-final when we play away."
Gary Bowyer is also looking forward for the replay, quietly confident in his boys. "We bring them back to Ewood Park and we hope we will have a full crowd," he said. "The pitch at Ewood is nowhere near the standard here so it might be a bit of a leveller for us."