Liverpool routs West Ham, advances to League Cup semis
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — After finishing last season empty-handed, Liverpool kept its four-pronged trophy pursuit alive Wednesday by advancing to the League Cup semifinals with a 5-1 win over West Ham.
Curtis Jones scored twice, with Dominik Szoboszlai, Cody Gakpo and Mohamed Salah also getting goals in the largely one-sided game at Anfield.
Jarrod Bowen struck a consolation goal for West Ham.
Liverpool will play Fulham in the two-legged semifinals, and second-division Middlesbrough will face Chelsea.
"The performance, the scoresheet, the result and the individual performances put together to make a team on the pitch," Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said. “We were brave in our positioning, our second ball game was exceptional. It was a really, really good performance from start to finish."
Liverpool can move atop the Premier League when it hosts first-place Arsenal on Saturday, is in the Europa League round of 16, and starts its FA Cup campaign next month.
The Merseyside club's form this term is in stark contrast to last season when its inconsistency saw it miss out on qualification to the Champions League and fail to win a trophy.
Now it looks set to mount a serious challenge for the title and is one round away from advancing to its first cup final of the campaign.
Having been held to a 0-0 draw by Manchester United on Sunday, the goals came flooding back for Klopp's team against West Ham.
Liverpool dominated the first half and took the lead through Szoboszlai in the 28th. The home team's pressing paid off as West Ham struggled to get out of its half and Szoboszlai's right-footed shot from about 25 yards (meters) powered into the bottom corner.
Liverpool could have scored a second later in the half, but Gakpo's header from inside the box bounced just past the post.
After the break, Darwin Nunez forced a save from Alphonse Areola with a shot that was headed for the top corner and Jones doubled the score in the 56th.
Nunez's clever pass split West Ham's defense and put Jones in position to fire through the goalkeeper's legs from a tight angle on the left.
Gakpo made it 3-0 in the 71st with a low shot from the edge of the area that nestled into the bottom corner.
Six minutes, later Bowen pulled a goal back for West Ham when he turned Jarell Quansah in the box and curled a right-footed shot past Caoimhin Kelleher.
Liverpool should have restored its three-goal advantage when Nunez's shot hit the post and rebounded into the path of substitute Salah. But the Egypt international fired wide from right in front of goal with Areola on the ground.
He made no mistake in the 82nd — converting when he went one-on-one with the West Ham keeper.
Jones then got his second and Liverpool's fifth in the 84th with a run into the box and a decisive finish.
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