Liverpool win the League Cup in spectacular fashion
Liverpool kept their composure to win a stunning 11-10 penalty shootout and beat Chelsea in the English League Cup final after an absorbing game that ended 0-0 after extra time at Wembley.
Both teams could claim to have been deserving winners in a classic, flowing encounter full of scoring chances, great saves and disallowed goals.
Even in the penalty shootout, the two teams were inseparable with 21 successful kicks that raised the tension.
It was a test between two goalkeepers with Caoimhin Kelleher of Liverpool beating Kepa Arrizabalaga who had replaced Edouard Mendy for the shootout.
Spaniard Arrizabalaga then poured his efforts over the bar into the massive ranks of Liverpool fans who celebrated the club’s first domestic silverware cup in a decade.
While Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp had won the Premier League and Champions League since joining Anfield, it was a rare cup success for the German who had only won two of his previous eight finals with Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool.
For Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, it meant his hopes of a fourth trophy in just over a year at Stamford Bridge were dashed. He won the Champions League last season and the European Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup this season.
Chelsea, who are bidding for a sixth League Cup, may well feel aggrieved after having arguably the best chance.
They almost took the lead from the start when Cesar Azpilicueta played a low pass to Christian Pulisic, whose first shot from six yards was cleared by Kelleher, who kept his place ahead of Alisson.
Chelsea were sharper in the opening exchanges but were lucky in the 17th minute when Sadio Mane got the wrong angle with a header from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross.
Liverpool grew in the game and Chelsea were indebted for a stunning double save from Mendy, first fending off Naby Keita’s low strike from the edge of the box then swooping in to deflect Mane’s follow-up over the top. bar.
An absorbing first half ended with Chelsea threatening again, with Mason Mount flying away from a Kai Havertz cross.
Three minutes after the break, Mount was given an even better chance when he brought down a ball that Havertz ran through, but his shot bounced inside the post, leaving Tuchel pounding the ground in frustration.
Liverpool responded just after the hour mark when Mohamed Salah was played clear, but his chip on Mendy lacked weight and Thiago Silva cleared the ball from the line.
Joel Matip thought he had given Liverpool the lead when he nodded after Mane’s header bounced but, as the fans threw red flares, the goal was disallowed by the referee Stuart Attwell after checking a pitchside monitor.
The cut and push continued with Salah again denied by Mendy before Chelsea scored an offside goal after substitutes Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner combined to set up Havertz to force a header past Kelleher.
Even in the six minutes of stoppage time, both teams were still throwing punches, Mendy fending off Virgil van Dijk’s pounding header before Werner missed a chance.
Lukaku was then denied a goal after cutting in from the right and drilling a shot past Kelleher, and Havertz had the ball in the net for the second time, only for another offside decision to go against the ‘German.
Arrizabalaga was sent off by Tuchel after added time for penalties but instead of becoming a hero he handed the trophy to Liverpool.