The Reds were paired with their old nemesis in the last four after securing a much-needed victory against Championship high-flyers Bournemouth
Brendan Rodgers relished the chance to wreck Chelsea’s Grand Slam bid after Liverpool landed a plum Capital One Cup semi-final against their old nemesis.
Two-goal Raheem Sterling eased the pressure on Rodgers as the Kop sidestepped a booby-trap by the seaside at Dean Court last night.
Then Liverpool were paired with Chelsea – whose 1-0 win at Anfield in April effectively cost Rodgers the title – over two legs in the last four next month.
And Rodgers, who acclaimed Liverpool’s performance against the Championship leaders as “outstanding”, said: “Our main objective was to get through tonight and, whoever we drew in the semi-finals, it was always going to be a difficult game.
“It’s over two legs and we will relish the opportunity. But I thought it was a brilliant performance here – we controlled the game, we kept pressing and we created many chances.”
“I can certainly see signs that we are getting back to where we were. There is a long way to go but this was a tough game, coming to a side top of the Championship.
“They are going well and for us to come and dominate like we did and score the goals that we did was very pleasing.”
Sterling’s first goal came after a 52-pass move lasting 2min 26sec, and Rodgers purred: “We work very hard on our passing and movement. It has taken us a long time to find our rhythm this season, but what has never stopped is the players’ work-rate.
“It doesn’t matter to me whether our first goal came from one pass or 52 – the game required us to show patience, character and quality, and our first goal was a wonderful example of all three.
“The kid, for some reason, seems to be getting a lot of stick off a lot of people for something. His contract situation is absolutely nothing to do with him and his representatives are working with the club.
“He is, as you can see, happy and enjoying his football. At Old Trafford he was unfortunate not to score and in that role he plays you think of Alexis Sanchez when he plays for Arsenal.
“He is not an out-and-out striker but his speed in front of the back four and behind them causes problems and you’ve seen that with him here, he can get it, turn and go at defenders. He has been like that all season and been a real catalyst for us.”
Midfielder Adam Lallana also praised Sterling, telling Sky Sports: He told Sky Sports: “We knew we would have to show quality tonight and the little man (Sterling) was brilliant.
“Week in, week out he’s worked hard and eventually his goals were going to come and it’s a credit to how mature he is at such a young age.”
Defender Dejan Lovren is doubtful for Sunday’s home game with Arsenal after suffering a slight groin strain.