Liverpool 0 - 0 Chelsea - The League Cup Final Match Report
The initial stages and final Pre-match build-up was consumed with bad news, as the Spanish magician Thiago, caught an injury in the warm up. What started as a bad practical joke on Twitter, soon became reality, with Naby Keita stepping up to the first team. The tears of Thiago (on the sidelines) resonated with the Liverpool fanbase, and his failure to make the squad saw Harvey Elliott take a place on the reds bench.
The reds look irregular in the opening stages of the first half, with Christian Pulisic almost scoring off a well placed cross. Caoimhin Kelleher was able to block that effort, and despite not really having his goal tested until late in the half, the reds still looked out of sorts. The Chelsea possession through the half began to sway in the reds favour, but despite a close range effort by Sadio Mane, the chances were mostly speculative. Thiago being a missing piece clearly caused a stir in Klopp’s side, and the game was uncontrolled as a result.
The second half was a frenetic back and forth battle, with both keepers called into action multiple times. A disallowed goal, against Joel Matip, was soon followed by a Chelsea effort also being adjudged to be offside. Luis Diaz was a constant threat from wide, and Mo Salah became more prominent as the second 45 minutes elapsed. A Virgil Van Dijk effort was smartly saved by the brilliant Eduard Mendy, and the game became more tense with each passing moment. With Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane all leaving the pitch on 80 minutes, there was a period where both sides tried to regain momentum. Chelsea made changes also, as the coaches began to look for extra avenues from their extended squad. Harvey Elliott, James Milner and Diogo Jota used the final minutes of the half to prepare for extra time.
The substitutes started to make an impact, both good and bad for each side, with the occasion and game continuing to cause tension. Romelu Lukaku almost cancelled extra time on 94 minutes, but for a close range stop by Caoimhin Kelleher. Both Eduard Mendy and Caoimhin Kelleher were exceptional in this game, and showed the worth of each starting as number 1.
The game proceeded into extra time, and the tired legs started to see lazy work and efforts transpire. Ibrahima Konate was brought onto the pitch for Joel Matip, with the power and pace of Lukaku starting to cause concern. That pace and power was proven on 98 minutes, with Lukaku powering home a well taken strike. That goal was chalked off, with the Belgium marksman found to be offside from the initial break.
Divock Origi came into the game for a fading Luis Diaz, with the pitch now comprising two large Belgium bookends. Scrappy became the nature of the game, with so much energy exerted by each side. The yo-yo battle slowed, with neither side wanting to cause a match ending mistake. As the first half of extra ended, some handbags ensure, before the whilst left went.
The final period of actual play got underway, with strong words from both managers delivered to their teams. Another disallowed goal stopped Chelsea going ahead, as Kai Havertz saw his goal once more offside. Chelsea continued to defend space well, with their organisation a real strong point. Liverpool had to scamper a few times, with breaks inevitable. Mohamed Salah seemed too intent on making the difference, with his movements often crowded out.
With Kepa arriving late to replace Mendy, penalties became a versus reality. And for the match report, that is that at 0-0, and penalties are something else.