Disappointment in Manchester
Liverpool will not be returning to Wembley this season after FA Cup Sixth Round opponents Manchester City pulled off a surprise 3-1 triumph.
Last season, the Reds were harshly defeated on penalties against Arsenal in the Semi Finals, but they won't be performing their FA Cup winning feats from 2015, 2016, and 2018 this time around either.
Eugene Konoplyanka opened the scoring for City and former Everton defender John Stones added to the lead with an early penalty, but Liverpool hit back through Raheem Sterling, who took advantage of center-back Shkodran Mustafi's concentration lapse to make it 2-1.
But City smashed all hopes of a late comeback as Sanjin Prcic's fantastic through ball allowed Stevan Jovetic to beat Jeronimo Rulli and kill the game off.
It keeps the Citizens' dreams of winning at least one cup this year alive. They are ten points behind first place in the Premier League, and have already been knocked out of the Capital One Cup and the Europa League. All this, despite Rafa Benitez splashing out £121 million on signings in both the summer and winter transfer windows.
The arrivals of world-class players like Kevin De Bruyne, Iker Muniain, and Jonathan Silva have undoubtedly boosted a City squad already full of big names such as Domenico Berardi, Roberto Firmino, Gaston Gil Romero, and Patrick Roberts.
And following their victory over Liverpool, another positive result against their Semi Final opponents will mean that this expensively-assembled team have yet another shot at their first trophy since the Community Shield in 2014.
Joe Hart has been enjoying one of the best seasons of his life and his form continued this afternoon as he pulled off a string of stunning saves to deny the relentless Liverpool attack. The 34-year-old could have kept a clean sheet too, and cannot be blamed for Sterling's goal.
Captaining his side in the absence of Berardi through injury, Hart led by example and was City's second-best player on the pitch after the brilliant Konoplyanka.
Liverpool found no way past the superb Joe Hart
Meanwhile, Reds boss Brendan Rodgers had chosen to start with a French defensive partnership in Samuel Umtiti and Yannis Aubry, but the duo were unable to make much use of their chemistry.
Liverpool captain James Ward-Prowse was, as always, the best player donning a red jersey but the performances of the charismatic Kop idol was not enough to inspire a fightback.
The defeat quashed Liverpool's astonishing run of 21 games unbeaten in all competitions, which started after a 1-0 loss to Newcastle back in early December.
"It's a fantastic win for us," former Liverpool man Lazar Markovic told reporters shortly after the full-time whistle. "Liverpool are a very good team. They're hard to beat so it's great that we've gotten a good result.
The 27-year-old, who left Merseyside to join City in a mega-money £60 million deal 4 years ago, also heaped praise on his goalkeeper.
"Everyone's going to be talking about the players outfield but a lot of credit has to go to Joe Hart. It felt magical just watching him, he was there every time the opponents had a go at our net. He's the best goalkeeper to ever play for Manchester City and he's proven that today."
James Ward-Prowse played well but the Liverpool captain could not inspire a fightback
In his post-match press conference, Rodgers questioned the decision to award City a penalty after Umtiti brought down attacking midfielder Roberts.
"The penalty? No, it definitely wasn't a good decision," said the Liverpool manager. "Samuel went for the ball and he had it too. It wasn't a penalty, not at all.
"It was very damaging for us to give away a penalty at that point in time. We looked good and we could have gotten ourselves back into the game, but it was made nearly impossible with that penalty."
However, Rodgers did not hesitate to condemn his players' defensive showings either. "Our attacking play cannot be faulted but defensively we looked bad, very bad.
"That's one cup out of the window for us and it's a massive disappointment because this is a team that has the quality to challenge for every honor available.
"It is a defeat that won't be easy to swallow, but for now it's important that we put this behind us and focus on what's ahead."