Liverpool were the better side on the run of play but failed to take their chances and lost late to a goal that fell somewhere between unlucky for the Reds and undeserved for their opponents. It’s a story Liverpool fans have become far too familiar with.
Despite that, there were positives. Positives like the makeshift centre back pairing of Tiago Ilori and Lucas Leiva, one young and seemingly surplus to requirements little more than a month ago and the other a midfielder filling in at the back to allow the regular starters a night off.
"There are always positives and I definitely think the way we played, the opportunities we made, the way we fought are all positives," he told the club’s official website. "We didn't get the result we think we deserved and the one we fought for, but that's football."
Ilori had a solid night, though he was perhaps lucky to get away with a tug in the penalty area that sent Emmer Valencia tumbling in the second half. That Valencia had spent much of the match tumbling over at the slightest excuse helped Ilori to escape, but it was a nervy moment for the youngster.
It was also more than made up for from a West Ham perspective when late in extra time Valencia fell as Ilori’s defensive partner, Lucas, stood behind him. Contact was somewhere between minimal and non-existent, but that didn’t matter to Valencia or referee Roger East.
Off the ensuing free kick, Angelo Ogbonna beat Liverpool’s defenders to the ball and knocked the Reds out of the FA Cup. It was a harsh result for Liverpool’s makeshift defensive duo, which had played more than solidly enough to have earned a win.
"We worked hard, we managed to make some clear-cut chances and opportunities to score goals, but we didn't make the right decisions at the right times," continued Ilori. "We all play together, we all train together every day, and we’re a team"
With Liverpool out of the FA Cup, though, where Ilori’s next chances in the team come from are difficult to make out. A League Cup final awaits, but a strong side is expected against Manchester City at Wembley, as it is when Liverpool return to Europe against Augsburg in February.
If Ilori is to get another chance to argue that he should have a Liverpool future, it will have to come in the league, where Liverpool’s top four race is run and from here out it’s mostly a battle to determine if they finish seventh or ninth or eleventh this year.
"I’ve had a few chances to play which is great," added Ilori. "I always thought there could be a future here. That’s why I signed for Liverpool in the first place. I just try and work hard every day."