BLACKBURN, England (AP) — Philippe Coutinho was Liverpool's FA Cup savior again on Wednesday, clinching a 1-0 victory over second-tier Blackburn to set up a semifinal with Aston Villa.
After a goalless draw at Anfield last month, Coutinho broke the deadlock in the 70th minute of the quarterfinal replay at Ewood Park. The Brazil playmaker drilled an angled low shot through a crowded six-yard box and inside the far post after a swift interchange with Jordan Henderson.
"Philippe's got a great football brain and the easy bit was just giving him it and he finished it fantastically well," Henderson told broadcaster BT Sport. "That little bit of brilliance from him wins us the game and gives everyone a big lift."
The goal was less dramatic than his 90th-minute winner in the fourth-round replay at Bolton, but it ensured Brendan Rodgers will take Liverpool to Wembley Stadium on April 19 for the first time in his three-year reign.
Winning the FA Cup would be some consolation for a disappointing season that saw Liverpool eliminated in the Champions League in the group stage and now struggling to make the Premier League's top four to return to Europe's elite competition next season.
"It was a really important game for us today," Henderson said. "I think everybody has been disappointed over the last couple of weeks with performances and results.
"But I think we showed great character today. We knew when we came here they'd make it difficult for us but from start to finish we controlled the game. I thought we were brilliant."