Aston Villa stunned Liverpool with a 2-1 victory in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, ending the Reds’ hopes of winning any silverware this season and destroying captain Steven Gerrard’s dream of lifting the famous trophy before he leaves the club this summer.
The Reds took the lead on the half-hour mark through Philippe Coutinho, only to see in-form Villa targetman Christian Benteke restore parity soon afterwards and midfielder Fabian Delph net the winner early in the second period.
It continues the upturn in fortunes which has come about at the Midlands club since Tim Sherwood took over as manager in February.
In stark contrast, it is a huge blow for Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers, who has still not won a major honour in his managerial career.
It was a day to forget for the Northern Irishman, who also saw rivals Manchester City beat West Ham United in the Premier League, damaging Liverpool’s chances of catching the fourth-placed Blues and earning qualification for next season’s Champions League.
Instead today belonged to Villa, who were good value for their victory thanks to a hard-working display laced with quality in the final third of the pitch, and resilience at the end when their opponents inevitably piled forward.
Coutinho skipped his way through a hesitant Villa defence to open the scoring, after Delph had gifted the ball to the Merseysiders:
But Benteke continued his fine run of form to level matters soon afterwards, producing a cool finish after excellent play from Delph:
Reds defender Alberto Moreno came up with a superb last-ditch tackle to prevent Benteke adding to his tally after the break:
Gerrard fancied his chances with a trademark free-kick 10 minutes from the end, but it was straight at goalkeeper Shay Given following a deflection:
The Liverpool captain then saw his header cleared off the line by Kieran Richardson:
Liverpool’s misery was compounded at the death when substitute Mario Balotelli was played clean through on goal, only to be wrongly flagged offside: