Chelsea and Liverpool played a drawn out and exhilarating Carabao Cup final on Sunday, which saw the Reds come out on top after a penalty shootout that looked like it would not end. The win look Liverpool’s League Cup tally to nine, ahead of Manchester City’s eight, and more than any other side in English football.
Chelsea started the game the stronger side, but could not capitalise on their dominance in the opening minutes. Creative play by Kai Havertz near the Liverpool penalty area led to a golden opportunity for Christian Pulisic, but the American could not convert as Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher parried the shot aimed at the near post.
As the half went on, Liverpool grew into the game and came close to snatching a first half lead, but was denied by the brilliant Edouard Mendy who produced a brilliant double-save to keep the game level.
Despite Liverpool edging possession and chances, and the occasional, but incisive Chelsea counter, the score remained 0-0 at half-time.
Proceedings did not change perceptibly as the second half began, but Chelsea improved, especially after bringing on second half substitutes Romelu Lukaku, Reece James, and Timo Werner.
Good chances fell both ways in the second half, and both sides had a goal disallowed for offside – Joel Matip’s header and Lukaku’s finish were both ruled out by VAR.
The score remained 0-0 at the end of the regulation time, leading to a hard fought period of extra-time.
The first half of extra time also saw tempers flare as Kai Havertz and Trent Alexander Arnold got into a stand-off, resulting in a booking for both players.
The second period of extra time began in breathtaking fashion as Havertz converted coolly, but the goal was again ruled out for an offside. Chances continue to come for both teams, but at the end of 120 minutes, the match remained level. Penalties followed.
Liverpool went first in the series of spot kicks and James Milner characteristically converted to kick-off what seemed like a never-ending shootout.
Not only did Chelsea and Liverpool dispatch all of their first five penalties, but also scored five each in sudden death. The match-decider, it seemed, came down to the two goalkeepers.
Liverpool’s young goalkeeper, Kelleher, rose up to the occasion to score, but Kepa Arrizabalaga, brought on for the brilliant Mendy right before the shootout, put his shot well-above the crossbar.
The match ended 11-10 in Liverpool’s favour, and saw the Reds lift their first silverware of the season. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp also became the first German manager to win the League Cup.