Liverpool’s defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva has had a frustrating campaign as a number of niggling injuries have prevented him from making more appearances for the Premier League leaders.
The Brazilian international is an important figure for Liverpool, and his return to action will certainly give the Reds that added steel needed for their remaining five Cup Finals.
The 27-year-old’s introduction at half-time against West Ham United was only Lucas Leiva’s third appearance since suffering an MCL knee ligament injury in January, and it proved to be a game-changer.
With the scores locked at 1-1, Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder helped the visitors wrestle the initiative and it was his wonderful pass which allowed Jon Flanagan to win the Reds’ second penalty.
Steven Gerrard duly dispatched the resulting spot-kick to hand Brendan Rodgers’ men all three points, and after the match he was quick to highlight Leiva’s phenomenal contribution.
“Lucas deserves a special mentioned,” Gerrard told the Liverpool Echo.
“I think there was a lot of pressure on him – the Brazil coach was here to watch him. He hasn’t played much of late, but he’s come back and worked his socks off to get fit.
“The ball he played for the second goal – people have been raving about Coutinho all year and the passes he has made – but for me, that was right up there with Brazil’s best.
“I think that helped us go on and get the win.”