HomeViews and OpinionsKlopp's kids lift Carabao Cup

Klopp’s kids lift Carabao Cup

A Virgil van Dijk header, with just minutes to go in extra time, secured Liverpool a record 10th League Cup. A man of the match performance from the captain, who’d earlier had a header ruled out by VAR, ensured Jurgen Klopp will have at least one trophy to mark his final season in charge of England’s most successful club.

It was a depleted Liverpool team that took to the Wembley turf and the billionaires from West London were surely favourites at kick-off. Liverpool. however, started the brighter with Chelsea looking nervous. Those nerves were born out by foul after foul by Pochettino’s men, and how Caceido escaped even a yellow card for a tackle on Ryan Gravenberch, who left Wembley on crutches, defies logic. With Liverpool already without Mo Salah, Darwin Nunez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, amongst others, Jurgen Klopp yet again had to re-organise the side, with Joe Gomez going to right back, leaving Conor Bradley to push into midfield.

Under strength though Liverpool where, Luis Diaz in particular saw plenty of the ball and, with Wataru Endo outstanding, he and Alexis Mac Allister outshone Chelsea’s expensively assembled midfield. Clear cut chances though were hard to come by, and it was Caoimhin Kelleher who was forced to make big saves, not least the point blank stop from Palmer. Cody Gakpo meanwhile struck the post with a header and VAR, for the one and only time in the match, came to Liverpool’s rescue when Sterling thought he’d put his side ahead before the break.

Liverpool again started the brighter in the second half, before VAR controversially ruled out a header from Van Dijk on the hour. Endo was adjudged to have been off-side when blocking a Chelsea defender from a corner. The decision appeared to galvanise the men from Stamford Bridge and Kelleher, who never put a foot wrong, saved smartly from Gallagher who’d earlier been denied by the post. Chelsea looked destined to score moments later, but somehow found its way into the hands of the Irish goalkeeper, despite richocheted back and fourth in the penalty box.

Extra time beckoned once more between these two old adversaries, with teen striker, Jayden Danns forcing a smart save from Petrovic. Chelsea, surprisingly ineffective and looking increasingly lacking in energy in the added thirty minutes, seemed content to head for a penalty shoot-out. Liverpool meanwhile, with youngsters Bobby Clark and James McConnell into the fray, looked the more likely scorers as almost two hours of football approached.

Then came a final twist, in a game in which Gary Neville accused Chelsea of being ‘billionaire bottlers’. Kostas Tsimikas hit a tremendous in swinging corner and Van Dijk stooped to conquer. This time, there was no VAR to save Chelsea, and Klopp’s kids saw out the remaining minutes with tremendous composure and belief.

So despite an extensive injury list, and little more than a youth team completing the League Cup Final, Liverpool got over the line. Klopp demonstrating once again his faith in academy graduates, eight of whom picked up winners’ medals and showing, once more, just what a near impossible job it will be to replace a manager who continues to add to his legacy.

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