Player ratings: Luis Diaz gives thrilling sign as fellow Liverpool star transformed against Cardiff
Luis Diaz had a Liverpool debut to remember as he impressed in helping the Reds beat Cardiff 3-1 to advance into the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Jurgen Klopp’s side could have taken the lead after five minutes with Diogo Jota’s chance, but that was their best opportunity of the first half. Indeed, while the Reds failed to find a spark in attack thereafter, Cardiff defended well and had a few half-chances of their own.
In the second half, Jota opened the scoring before Takumi Minamino added a second. Meanwhile, Diaz – Liverpool’s January signing from Porto – made a great impact on debut alongside Harvey Elliott, who came off the bench for his first appearance since September due to injury and scored his side’s third.
As for who else stood out, Aden Flint defended brilliantly for Cardiff in the first half, with Jota the liveliest Liverpool player.
Trent Alexander-Arnold also turned his performance on its head after a sloppy first 45 minutes by his standards.
Liverpool will now play Norwich at Anfield in the fifth round.
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Caoimhin Kelleher: Quiet in the first half and made only one routine save early on. Instantly involved after the break, as he was yellow-carded for rushing out and mistiming a tackle on Mark Harris but avoided a red. 6/10.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: Had lots of the ball on the right but his passing and shooting could have been better. Missed two free-kick opportunities in good areas. A different player in the second half, notching the assist for Jota’s opener while his passing was much better. 8.
Ibrahima Konate: Had little to do, but almost gave a penalty with a tackle on Harris. Similarly quiet after the break as Liverpool dominated. 6.
Virgil van Dijk: Composed on the ball amid pressure from Cardiff frontmen James Collins and Mark Harris, and good with his passing. Continued in that vein in the second half. 8.
Kostas Tsimikas: Put in some threatening crosses and good tackles down the left. 6.
Jordan Henderson: A few nice touches and passes in midfield and kept Liverpool ticking over throughout. 7.
Naby Keita: Had mixed fortunes when trying intricate passes into Liverpool frontmen from midfield. Blazed two long-range shots high and wide. 4.
Curtis Jones: Found himself in midfield and on the left of Liverpool’s attack but not too effective. Fired two shots over in decent chances for the Reds. 4.
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Takumi Minamino: Quiet on the right of Liverpool’s attack and struggled to make his mark in the first half. Finished his goal well in the second half, catching Cardiff by surprise. 6.
Roberto Firmino: Headed over in his only first-half chance. Impressed in the pockets of space, including when he won a foul. Had two decent chances in the second half but could have done better for Cardiff’s goal late in the game. 6.
Diogo Jota: Had Liverpool’s best chance of the first half with a shot blocked by Dillon Phillips after a great turn. Great header to open the scoring from Alexander-Arnold’s cross. 8.
Harvey Elliott (on for Keita, 57): Non-stop after coming on and took his goal fantastically before celebrating in front of the Kop. 7.
Luis Diaz (on for Jones, 58): Showed Liverpool manager Klopp he will likely fit in fine with his pressing on Cardiff, which resulted in him winning the ball and getting an assist for Minamino’s goal. 7.
James Milner (on for Minamino): Had a few decent touches, but gave the ball away for Cardiff’s goal. 5.
Andy Robertson (on for Tsimikas): N/A.
Thiago Alcantara (on for Henderson, 78): N/A.
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Dillon Phillips: Great save from Jota’s shot and commanded his goal well in the first half amid Liverpool pressure. Could have done better in the build-up to Minamino’s goal. 4.
Oliver Denham: Played his part helping Cardiff lots of Liverpool pressure in the first half, but struggled to keep the Reds at bay after the break. 4.
Aden Flint: Cardiff’s most impressive defender in the first half, making several interceptions to stop Liverpool advances, but also played his part in the defending for Minamino’s goal in the second half. 5.
Mark McGuiness: Made a few good interceptions, especially from Henderson’s crosses for Liverpool. 4.
Perry Ng: Impressed in the early stages up and down Cardiff’s right-hand side, but could have cost the visitors when switching off amid two good Reds crosses. 4.
Eli King: Played his part as Cardiff held firm in the first half but came off after the break. 4.
Marlon Pack: Good early touches in midfield, but spent most of the first half chipping in in defence. 4.
Will Vaulks: Had mixed fortunes when trying to win the ball from Liverpool as they advanced, giving away a foul or two. 4.
Joel Bagan: Made his mark as part of Cardiff’s solid back five in the first half. Made a good impression defensively early on in the second half. 4.
Mark Harris: Great pressing throughout the first half, trying to get at Van Dijk at every opportunity while also holding the ball up. Fired in a dangerous low cross in one of Cardiff’s best first-half chances. 5.
James Collins: Lively on the left of Cardiff’s attack, making life hard for Reds centre-back Konate and firing a first-half shot wide. 4.
Isaak Davies (on for Harris, 58): Came on to great effect, driving forward in midfield and laying it off to Colwill to finish. 5.
Jordan Hugill (on for Collins, 58): N/A.
Rubin Colwill (on for King, 69): Took his goal brilliantly, finishing well past Kelleher. 5.
Tommy Doyle (on for Vaulks, 69): N/A.
Jai Semenyo (on for Ng, 90+3): N/A.