Liverpool win League Cup after beating Chelsea

AP , Sunday 25 Feb 2024

Liverpool won the League Cup in dramatic fashion as Virgil van Dijk's header late in extra-time sealed a 1-0 win against Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday.

Liverpool
Liverpool players celebrate their victory at the English League Cup final soccer match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. Photo: AP

 

Jurgen Klopp's injury-hit side finished a gruelling clash with a host of raw youngsters on the pitch, but it was their experienced captain who clinched the club's 10th League Cup triumph.

Van Dijk earlier had a goal controversially disallowed by VAR, but the Dutch defender pounced to nod home with just two minutes left.

It was Liverpool's first trophy following Klopp's bombshell announcement that he will step down at the end of this season.

The German will hope Liverpool's first silverware since the 2022 FA Cup will be the springboard for an incredible farewell tour.

Quadruple-chasing Liverpool sit top of the Premier League, face Southampton in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday and take on Sparta Prague in the Europa League last 16.

It was another bitter Wembley experience for Chelsea, who lost the 2022 League Cup and FA Cup finals against Liverpool.

Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino has asked Chelsea fans not to judge him on "winning titles" in the midst of a troubled first season in charge.

But Chelsea remain without domestic silverware since the 2018 FA Cup and had only themselves to blame after missing a host of chances in normal time.

Ravaged by injuries to 11 players, Liverpool's list of star absentees included Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson Becker, Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota and Dominik Szoboszlai.

That meant starts for 20-year-olds Conor Bradley and Harvey Elliott, while six of Klopp's substitutes were 21 or younger.

Goals ruled out

Despite their youthful line-up, Liverpool settled quickly as Luis Diaz led the charge.

Taking advantage of Chelsea's hesitant defending, Diaz advanced into the area for a fierce strike that forced a good save from Djordje Petrovic.

Against the run of play, Chelsea should have taken the lead with their first incisive raid.

Conor Gallagher's cross deflected to Cole Palmer just six yards out, but his strike produced a superb save from Caoimhin Kelleher.

Ryan Gravenberch joined Liverpool's ever-growing injury list when he was stretchered off after the midfielder's leg twisted awkwardly in a challenge with Moises Caicedo.

Raheem Sterling thought he had given Chelsea the lead with a close-range finish from Nicolas Jackson's cross, but the goal was disallowed for a tight offside against the Senegal striker before his assist.

Responding to Chelsea's improvement, Liverpool were inches away from taking the lead through Cody Gakpo, whose glancing header from Andrew Robertson's cross hit the far post.

Liverpool kept coming and Bradley's goalbound shot was brilliantly blocked by Levi Colwill, who threw himself into the fray to repel the close-range effort.

Liverpool looked to have broken the deadlock on the hour when Van Dijk climbed above Ben Chilwell to head in Robertson's free-kick.

But VAR intervened, prompting referee Chris Kavanagh to disallow the goal for offside against Wataru Endo, who blocked Colwill from marking the Dutch defender.

Axel Disasi should have rubbed salt into Liverpool's wounds but the Chelsea defender made a complete hash of a close-range chance.

Chelsea went close again as Gallagher met Palmer's cross with a flick that cannoned off the far post.

Gallagher wasted a golden opportunity to win it in the final minutes, receiving Palmer's pass in acres of space but taking a heavy touch that allowed Kelleher to save.

In a pulsating finale, Kelleher made two more saves from Palmer and Christopher Nkunku in quick succession to force extra-time.

Bobby Clark, James McConnell, Jarell Quansah and Jayden Danns were all on by now, but if Liverpool's youngsters lacked Chelsea's experience, they were never overawed.

Danns almost guided his header over Petrovic and Elliott was inches away when he volleyed against the post.

Liverpool would not be denied and with penalties just two minutes away, Van Dijk met Kostas Tsimikas's corner with a header that flashed past Petrovic as Klopp raised his arms with a smile that bordered on disbelief.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

Search Keywords:
Short link: