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Jurgen Klopp has Wembley bug as Liverpool change FA Cup attitude

Posted on March 21, 2022

Liverpool clinched a 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest at the City Ground in the FA Cup quarter-finals to give Jurgen Klopp a Wembley date against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp has discovered his love of English cup competitions - and now the Liverpool manager cannot get enough of Wembley.

Liverpool set up a clash of the titans with Pep Guardiola's Manchester City in next month’s FA Cup semi-final by overcoming a familiar rival from yesteryear after a fantastic and nerve-wracking battle at the City Ground.

Nottingham Forest have been the giant-killing story of this season’s FA Cup and Steve Cooper's well-organised side came so desperately close to the biggest scalp of all after giving Liverpool, the seven-time winners of the competition, an almighty scare at tea time on Sunday.

These two won five consecutive European Cups between them back in the day in the late 1970s and early 80s and, at times, you would not know which team was which. But Liverpool rode their luck, they clung on and, just two minutes after the biggest scare of all, Diogo Jota popped up with a 78th-minute winner to end Forest’s fairytale.

Incredibly, that was Jota’s 19th goal in all competitions and the Portugal forward saved Liverpool’s mix-and-match line-up from extra time, a potential penalty shoot-out and a cup upset. Liverpool boss Klopp won the club’s first domestic trophy in ten years when he lifted the Carabao Cup last month and has now got his sights set on more silverware.

They will have to overcome City as these two giants could end up going toe-to-toe in the FA Cup, Premier League title race and Champions League. It was far from Liverpool’s best performance, Klopp made seven changes and the players who came in did not look at the races as it was far from their usual fluid, cohesive high standards.

Instead, it was all about fine margins and heartbreak in a rip-roaring brilliant cup atmosphere at the City Ground when Forest dared to dream but missed their big chance. The opening fell to the wonderfully named Philip Zinckernagel but the Forest midfielder steered wide after 76 minutes… and two minutes later Jota wrapped it up for the visitors.

It was as tight and as close as that. Forest pushed themselves to the limit, the team which put out Arsenal and Leicester on the way to the quarter finals had another upset in their sights.

But ultimately, Liverpool braved it all and came out on top. Incredibly, this is as far as Klopp has been in the FA Cup because he has prioritised the Premier League and Champions League and, having won them both, you cannot knock him too much.

However, it is brilliant to see Klopp buying into the traditions of the greatest cup competition in the world especially as winning and trophies become a habit. Liverpool were the better team in the first half but just could not find a way through as Roberto Firmino went clean through but was thwarted by Forest keeper Ethan Horvath.

Forest were more clinging on than threatening but they grew into the game as it wore on and you could sense Liverpool’s frustration building and Klopp rang the changes with four substitutes after 64 minutes as oncame Thiago, Jordan Henderson, Luiz Diaz and Takumi Minamino.

Liverpool could sense danger - and they had an almighty escape just two minutes before they went ahead. Yates spread the ball wide, Brennan Johnson put over a low cross from the right and it was on a plate for Zinckernagel only for the Forest midfielder to fire wide.

Two minutes later, the tie was over. Kostas Tsimikas put over a cross from the left, Jack Colback switched off in the box and Jota stormed in behind and smashed the ball home. It was ruled onside by the smallest of VAR margins. Forest still had two more moments. Yates screamed for a penalty after claiming he was tripped by Alisson and then headed straight at the Liverpool keeper. But that was clutching at straws as the damage was done