Carabao Cup Final Match Report

Image source: Evening Standard

The big day has finally arrived! All the hard work of several younger and rotation players has paid off as Liverpool FC walked out to  almost 90,000 boisterous fans in the stands at the renowned Wembley  stadium. This ground has been the famed location of joy for Chelsea (FA Cup 2018) and heartbreak for Liverpool (EFL 2016) in the past, so the pressure of recent history weighed heavily on the shoulders of the two German coaches. Ultimately, Jurgen Klopp would triumph over his Borussia Dortmund successor in dramatic fashion, lifting the cup after neither side scored a single goal over two halves. So read on for our full Carabao Cup final match report. 

Otherwise, you can watch the highlights by clicking here.

Image source: DNA India

Carabao Cup Final Match Report

Venue: Wembley, February 27th 2022

When Liverpool FC beat Arsenal 0-2 and qualified for the EFL final, I was overcome with very mixed feelings. Naturally, I was overjoyed at the thought of Jurgen and the Reds competing in another cup final. On the other hand, I felt real trepidation at the thought of facing a very capable Chelsea FC. Not to mention on a personal level, my nineteenth birthday was greatly dampened by the EFL final  loss to Manchester City in Jurgen Klopp’s maiden campaign. Needless to say, I would likely have no fingernails left at full-time. 

EFL Final: First Half

Cup finals are typically dramatic events, sadly Liverpool FC midfielder Thiago Alcantara was withdrawn just before kickoff, being replaced by Naby Keita.

The two sides wasted no time after kickoff to flex their attacking talent. The run of play would jump from end to end as possession was lost, regained and given away again for both sides as they missed the limited chances they could create. Chelsea would muster the first and their most significant chance of the half as Cesar Azpiliicueta set up Christian Pulisic from the right, only for the American to square the ball at Caoimhin Kelleher.

The Reds would certainly respond, however all they would achieve would be the groans of disappointment from their fans. Sadio Mane would find the ball and a largely open net after a rebounded Naby Keita shot. However, the recent AFCON winner would have his bizarrely low shot blocked by compatriot Edouard Mendy. A foot higher and Liverpool would be ahead. 

Similarly, Mason Mount would waste the limited chances his team could create. The Englishmen would travel a long way to reach Liverpool FC’s goal, only to clip the ball wide from just a few yards out. All he had to do was tap the ball to the side of the Irish keeper. Liverpool’s fortune or Chelsea’s blunder? 

EFL Final HT: 0-0

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EFL Final: Second Half

Chelsea started the second half in a similar fashion to how they ended the first, creating good chances but wasting them with their end product. Mason Mount would be culpable again as he received the ball from above and had his one-on-one attempt blocked, not by Kelleher, but the post. The ball was left to trickle out of harm’s way. With the freedom of time and space to pick his shot, Mount gives Liverpool another lifeline. 

Liverpool, now quickly using up most of their nine lives, replicate the wastefulness of their opponents. Receiving the ball from the left-hand side, Mohamed Salah attempts to dink the ball over Mendy, only to have kicked away as it approached the post, possibly to bounce out anyway. What followed was a series of goals to be ruled out for various reasons.

Trent Alexander-Arnold precisely found the head of Sadio Mane from afar which set up the towering dome of Joel Matip and sent into the net. Clearly, his goal vs Leeds United further inspired the Cameroonian  defender to fulfil his dream of becoming a centre-forward. Sadly, after a lengthy VAR check, the goal was ruled out as Virgil van Dijk was caught for interference. Matip’s dream cup final hattrick would have to wait.

Chelsea found themselves in a great position after winning the ball back in a dangerous place.  Kai Havertz nodded the ball initially into the Liverpool keeper and found its way into the net. However, the gleaming, yellow offside flag was all Havertz could see midway through celebrating his goal. Liverpool’s offside trap was proving effective, right?

A lapse in concentration from the Liverpool defence saw Lukaku receive the ball just inches from his opponent’s goal, thankfully, Kelleher kept his side in the game with a close-range block from an outstretched leg. As expected, the game went to extra time as the pressure ramped up. 

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EFL Final: Extra Time

Lukaku continued to prove to be a menace for Liverpool as the first phase of extra time began. He fired in from his left foot past the Liverpool goalkeeper. But to the Red’s relief, this was ruled out as offside with another VAR check. The first phase ended 0-0 and the looming possibility of a penalty shootout was fast becoming a reality. 

The tension was ramped up further as the second phase included limited chances for Liverpool and another Kai Havertz attempt chalked out for offside. The linesman must be a secret Liverpool fan, he has given them numerous miracles in this game. On the brink of a penalty shootout, Chelsea brings on Kepa Arrizibalaga in the hopes of some late-stage heroics. A bold move to say the least, especially after some key saves from Mendy.

EFL Final: Penalties

Every outfield player for both sides stepped up and took their penalties well until it was time for the two goalkeepers to face one another. Kelleher slotted the ball away as the Reds fans breathed a sigh of relief. However, Kepa, the world’s most expensive goalkeeper sent the ball into the stratosphere.

Winning 11-10 on penalties, Liverpool are EFL champions.

Image source: 90min

EFL Cup: Final Words

While Jurgen Klopp has been accused of not taking the cup competitions too seriously in the past, the EFL was on the list of honours yet to be won by the German coach. His first cup final in charge back in 2016 was a long-winded affair into extra time . It was an eventual loss in a penalty shootout. With several goals ruled out by VAR and the offside flag, memories of the 2016 final began to set in as a penalty shootout was looming. 

However, times have changed. When the world’s most expensive goalkeeper stepped up to take a penalty against Liverpool’s second choice, you would naturally ask yourself, ‘Alisson took a penalty?’ But no, that title is reserved for Kepa Arrizibalaga, who lumped the ball so high, it has yet to fall back down to the ground. 

Although it was a game Liverpool arguably did not deserve to win, they did so at all costs. A great team will convincingly win games, however, a champion will win games they should not have. In other news, some say that on a clear night, you can still see the ball from Kepa’s penalty floating over the River Thames. Thank you for reading our Carabao Cup final match report. Keep up-to-date with all of our Liverpool FC content by following this link