Liverpool-Bournemouth Verdict: Raheem Sterling, Reds Sport New Look In Win

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Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling cut his hair some time between Sunday’s loss to Manchester United and Wednesday’s victory over Bournemouth. The results speak for themselves.

Sterling scored Liverpool’s first and third goals, as it advanced to the semifinals of the Capital One Cup (Football League Cup) with a 3-1 road win over Bournemouth at Goldsands Stadium. Liverpool booked a two-game January date with Chelsea in semifinal of the competition with Wednesday’s win.

Lazar Markovic gave the Reds a two-tally lead after 27 minutes when he scored his first goal for Liverpool. Markovic’s side-footed finish was the highlight of a promising and positive performance he delivered from an unfamiliar left wing-back position.

Rodgers debuted the new formation in the setback against Manchester United. The Liverpool manager persisted with the set-up against Bournemouth and reaped instant dividends.

The Reds nearly conceded in the fourth minute, but they bossed the next 45 and put the game out of reach. They dominated possession and territory throughout the first half, making Bournemouth’s well-organized defense chase the ball from sideline to sideline and the visitors’ third of the field to the hosts’.

Liverpool hadn’t created much by the time Markovic crossed to Jordan Henderson in the 20th minute, but it didn’t matter. The Reds were flowing, and Sterling showed a natural center forward’s ability when he darted into the goal-mouth and met Henderson’s header with a diving header of his own. The goal was Sterling’s first since Sept. 20, ending the newly shorn forward’s lengthy goal drought on two fronts.

[tweet https://twitter.com/OptaJoe/status/545313207683121152 align=’center’]

Bournemouth barely had regrouped by the time Markovic scored a well-taken goal seven minutes after Sterling struck.

Liverpool then cruised into the interval, and Sterling sealed the win in the 51st minute when he scored his second goal of the game. Many criticized Sterling for wasting scoring chances against Manchester United, but he showed excellent pace and composure in front of goal on this occasion. Perhaps being a little more aerodynamic and not shooting on David de Gea helped Sterling’s cause.

Bournemouth experienced a revival in the second half. Dan Gosling scored on a shot Brad Jones should have saved, which only will intensify Liverpool’s goalkeeping controversy. Jones conceded on Bournemouth’s first shot, and the hosts tested him repeatedly over the last 40 minutes, as the home fans attempted to will their team back into the game.

Sterling missed a sitter in the 67th minute. Two minutes later, Gosling could have repeated the nightmare Sterling experienced Saturday, but his shot hit the post and spared Liverpool from a frantic final 20 minutes.

Rodgers’ faith in the new formation paid off against Bournemouth for two reasons. That Bournemouth is a weaker team than Liverpool (and Manchester United) is the first factor. The second is that Rodgers used different players in certain positions, which gave the Reds fresh impetus and added security.

Like Sterling’s finishing and haircut, Liverpool’s performance wasn’t flawless. But they all were improvements on recent showings, giving Liverpool more confidence that the club will be heading in the right direction in the days and weeks to come.

Liverpool to face Chelsea in League Cup semifinals >>

Review our Liverpool-Bournemouth live blog >>

Photo via LiverpoolFC.com

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