Downing delighted with Cup progress

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Stewart Downing admitted he was thrilled to have made the telling contribution by scoring the winning goal in Sunday's 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final victory over Stoke City at Anfield.

The 27-year-old midfielder restored the advantage for Kenny Dalglish's side after Liverpool had been pegged back by a Peter Crouch header after Luis Suarez's sensational opener to break the deadlock.

Downing slotted home from close range after gliding between two Potters defenders, and confirming the Reds' place in the semi-final where they will face either Everton or Sunderland depending on the result of that sixth round replay.

"I'm absolutely delighted," he told "It was a tough game, but the main thing is we got through. Now we have another trip to Wembley.

"I think it's got to be the highlight (of my Liverpool career so far). I've enjoyed some big games, and the (Carling Cup) final was great.

"It was a tough game for us, but the way we got the goal, and for me to score at Anfield, was a great feeling and I'm glad it won us the game."

The victory means that Liverpool will return to Wembley little more than a month after their Carling Cup final success over Cardiff City, a reward that the players' resilience and determination in yesterday's hard-fought encounter thoroughly deserved.

"I think we deserved to win," continued Downing. "We were the only team going forward and creating. That's no disrespect to Stoke - a lot of teams come here and sit behind the ball.

"We have to be patient at times and I can understand fans getting frustrated when it's not going well, but if they bear with us we've got the players to open up defences - and we proved that in the end.

"I'm looking forward to it and hopefully I'll play [in the semi-final]. No matter who we get, I fancy our chances against anybody as long as we keep playing the way we are."

Next up for Liverpool is a trip to relegation strugglers QPR in the Premier League on Wednesday before a home tie against lowly Wigan Athletic next weekend.

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Stewart Downing
FA Cup

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