Four things we learned from Liverpool's FA Cup triumph as Luis Diaz brings joy

Liverpool booked their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup with a convincing second half display over Cardiff City at Anfield.

Goals from Diogo Jota, Takumi Minamino and an impressive third goal from Harvey Elliott ensured the Reds will be competing on all four fronts until at least the start of March, with Norwich their fifth-round opponents. 

Here's everything we learned from this afternoon's victory.

Harvey Elliott's stunning comeback

After the game, Jurgen Klopp described the 18-year-old's comeback as a "fairytale" and that's exactly how Elliott would have dreamt of marking his return after 147 days out - with a stunner in front of the Kop.

It was arguably the loudest cheer of the afternoon. That was after 58 minutes when both Elliott and new signing Luis Diaz lined up on the touchline to a rapturous ovation as they were introduced to the game.

The former Fulham youngster wasted no time in making up for the past five months on the sidelines as he promptly demanded the ball from his teammates and drove at the Cardiff defence with a spring in his step. 

His goal encapsulated everything Elliott is about technically; the touch, swivel and finish all represented that of a seasoned pro, a world-class number nine but it wasn't, this was Liverpool's fearless 18-year-old star showing everyone exactly what he's about. 

Once again deployed in a midfield trio, like he was earlier in the season prior to his injury, he gave fans a look at what kind of contribution they can expect from the England youth international between now and May.

Similar to Curtis Jones, Elliott is one of the Reds' few midfielders who possess the ability to create something out of nothing. He loves to drive at defences and pick the ball up in the half-spaces, he's something like a street footballer.

Of course, it's early days in his recovery and his manager will be as cautious as anyone but judging by his explosive cameo today, the Reds have a fine diamond in the calvary ahead of the season's penultimate months.

Strength in depth 

As well as the return of Elliott and the introduction of Diaz, Thiago Alcantara made his return to the Liverpool side for the first time since the defeat to Leicester City over the Christmas period. 

It was during his absence that Liverpool surrendered control of the midfield department on numerous occasions - most notably against Tottenham and Chelsea - with the Spaniard's composure on the ball massively missed. 

It's been hard for Liverpool to plan around Thiago since he moved to Anfield, given that he has spent such large spells on the sideline. However, there's no doubting that the Reds are a far more complete unit when he is on the field. Something that will strengthen their bid for multiple trophies between now and the end of the season.

Accustomed to the surroundings

Klopp sported a beaming smile in his post-match press conference when he was asked about his thoughts on new signing Diaz's first outing for his new club.

"His [Diaz] assist for Taki was absolutely incredible," said Klopp

"The high press to win the ball back, I love it."

New signings find it difficult to acclimatise to life under Klopp when they first move to Anfield, given the demands the German usually places on his players off the ball.

Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Andy Robertson all had to earn the trust of their manager before experiencing a sustained spell in the side.

But as Dias battled with a Cardiff defender on the byline when the ball seemed unlikely to be won, the Colombian superbly regained possession and teed up Minamino to fire home from close range.

While Klopp and Co will be under no rush to throw Diaz into every fixture, the early signs will stem from nothing but confidence from his manager as to how well performed his defensive duties in the final third.

Healthy competition 

With the beauty of hindsight, it seems bizarre that Kostas Tsimikas was somewhat frozen out of the Liverpool side last year as Andy Robertson's form suffered as a result of overexertion. 

Though this season Tsimikas is finally being trusted by his manager, and Robertson's performances have surpassed the level of the last campaign due to the pressure of his teammate. 

On Sunday afternoon the Greek international put in another stellar performance down the Reds' left-hand side as he demonstrated both his attacking and defensive qualities. 

During the first half, Liverpool's number 21 displayed a willingness to strive forward and offer support to the likes of Jones, Roberto Firmino and Jota. 

It was a frequent sight to see the defender offer Jones the overlap - and underlap - which helped create space for Jones to drive into more centrally areas and link up with closer to the goal.

Robertson - who notched two assists against Crystal Palace last time out - replaced his counterpart with 20 minutes to go at Anfield, as he looked to rubber-stamp his place at Klopp's number one. 

It was an impressive cameo too, as he placed a delicate cross into the box to pick out Elliott - who put the game beyond the Championship side with his remarkable finish - with just 15 minutes left on the clock.

At this stage, with the Reds preparing for a gruelling month - which consists of 22 games in seven days - the form and healthy battle between both left-backs will be advantageous to Klopp as he bids to add more silverware to the cabinet later this month.

 

 

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