Liverpool have held their nerve to win an astonishing penalty shootout 11-10 and edge out Chelsea in the English League Cup final after a thrilling contest somehow ended 0-0 after extra time at Wembley.
- The match came down to the goalkeepers, with Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher netting his chance to get the win
- There were four disallowed goals in the thrilling match
- Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich has been in the headlines for his alleged close ties to the Kremlin
Both sides could claim to have been deserving winners in a classic free-flowing encounter full of goal-scoring chances, remarkable saves and four disallowed goals.
Even in the penalty shootout the two heavyweights were inseparable with 21 successful kicks ratcheting up the tension.
In the end it came down to an unlikely duel between two goalkeepers, with young Irish Liverpool shot-stopper Caoimhin Kelleher belting his penalty past Kepa Arrizabalaga, who had replaced Edouard Mendy for the shoot-out.
Spaniard Arrizabalaga then blazed his effort over the bar into the massed ranks of Liverpool supporters who celebrated the club’s first domestic Cup silverware for a decade.
While Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp had won the Premier League and Champions League since arriving at Anfield, it was a rare cup success for the German who had won only two of his previous eight finals with Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool.
Klopp’s decision to stay loyal to stand-in keeper Kelleher, who has featured throughout the run to the final, rather than revert to Alisson, was richly rewarded, although the Irishman could hardly have imagined scoring the decisive penalty in a shootout.
“It’s a mad one. When it came down to me I didn’t even think I had scored the winning penalty,” he said.
“I got close to (stopping) a few but all the penalties were very high quality; thankfully we were able to win.”
For Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel it meant his hopes of a fourth trophy in just over a year at Stamford Bridge fell just short.
He won the Champions League last season and the European SuperCup and FIFA Club World Cup this season, while Chelsea were bidding for their sixth League Cup.
His side might well feel aggrieved after having arguably the better chances.
This included two goals disallowed in extra time, first when Romelo Lukaku cut in from the right and drilled a shot past Kelleher but was adjudged marginally offside.
Tuchel praised his players for keeping a clean sheet in the 120 minutes against what he said was probably the best attacking side in Europe, but said he was left to rue “a bit of a weird line” with the Lukaku call.
“But that’s it. We cannot have any regrets,” Tuchel said.
Tuchel also defended sending goalkeeper Arrizabalaga on for Mendy in the dying moments of extra time.
The idea was to make the most of the Spaniard’s penalty-stopping expertise but he saved none of the Reds’ 11 spot-kicks and then missed when it was his turn to shoot from 12 meters.
“It was a bit harsh on him today that he was the guy to miss the one and the only penalty but there is no blame,” Tuchel said.
The dramatic end to the Carabao Cup came a day after the London club’s ownership was in the headlines, as Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich handed over “stewardship and care” of the team after allegations were aired about his alleged close ties to the Russian state.
Prior to the game, both Liverpool and Chelsea stood with the Wembley crowd to “show solidarity with the people of Ukraine and all those affected by the ongoing conflict”.
Tuchel said the move by Abramovich would not the way he manages the team.
“I think it won’t change anything for me on a daily basis. This is how I understand it,” Tuchel told reporters after the final.
There are growing calls for the British government to confiscate ownership of the club from Abramovich in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.
Tuchel said he typically worked closely with Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia and Petr Cech, the club’s technical and performance advisor and he did not expect that to change.