Ross Barkley said it was “a dream” to score against Liverpool as the midfielder helped Chelsea reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
The result meant Liverpool suffered their second successive defeat of this stellar season in a highly-competitive encounter at Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool made seven changes to the side that lost surprisingly at Watford on Saturday – the first reverse of their league campaign after 18 successive victories left them on the brink of a first title for 30 years.
Chelsea, however, still had to overcome a Liverpool team containing the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane, Andy Robertson and Joe Gomez in a hard-fought fifth-round tie.
Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian gifted Willian Chelsea’s opener after 13 minutes when he hopelessly fumbled his 20-yard shot, but the European champions had chances of their own only to see recalled keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga present a formidable barrier with a string of saves.
The game was effectively settled after 64 minutes when former Everton midfielder and Toffees fan Barkley surged from inside his own half on a solo run before beating Adrian with an emphatic strike.
“We needed a top performance tonight at home after two disappointing results.
“Scoring against Liverpool is massive for me. As an Everton fan, it’s always a dream to score against them.”
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard will now have Wembley in his sights while Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp returns to the task of wrapping up the Premier League title and overcoming a 1-0 deficit from the Champions League last-16 first leg against Atletico Madrid.
The tiny figure of Billy Gilmour looked like a boy among men at the heart of this FA Cup tie between two Premier League superpowers – but the 18-year-old Scot gave a performance that was huge in stature.
He deserves people to talk about him after a performance like that.”
Here, Barkley showed both sides to his character, often making the wrong decisions but showing his natural brilliance when he took possession in his own half and surged forward before sending a flashing finish past Adrian.
This was a big victory for Chelsea and Frank Lampard.
Their Champions League hopes look all but over after a 3-0 home defeat in the home leg of the last-16 tie against Bayern Munich and they face a fight to finish in the top four – but they are at the heart of that battle and are now in the later stages of the FA Cup.
Liverpool manager Klopp’s animated demeanour demonstrated that this was a match he was taking very seriously and was desperate to win but it was to no avail.
It has been an unusual FA Cup campaign for Liverpool, with a scratch side full of youngsters winning a Merseyside derby against Everton in the third round, then effectively a youth team beating Shrewsbury Town in a fourth-round replay at Anfield while Klopp and his senior players enjoyed a winter break.
Liverpool and their fans have been given a glimpse of the talents of youngsters such as Curtis Jones and Neco Williams but this was the end of the line.
Liverpool may not have the Treble of title, FA Cup and Champions League to pursue any more – but the Premier League crown is coming back to Anfield and this side still has enough to make it a memorable night against Atletico Madrid.
They are fighting with all they have and they did really well against Chelsea.