Player Ratings as Liverpool Secure Wembley Cup Final Spot at Fulham

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Fulham 1 – 1 (2-3) Liverpool – EFL Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg Player Ratings

A day after Chelsea overcame Middlesbrough to book their place in the EFL Cup final, Liverpool travelled to Craven Cottage to complete their two-legged tie against another west London side, Fulham, to book their own place at Wembley.

Player Ratings and Summaries

Goalkeeper

Caoimhin Kelleher – 6.0

The world’s greatest goalkeeper was replaced by one the games finest backups, as the reds EFL Cup keeper of choice. Made a fine interception half way through the opening half, before some more good handling to keep his team in the lead. The second half started a little cagier for the Irishman, as a misjudged attempt at punching the ball clear, saw a headed chance saved only by the post. Could do little for the Fulham goal, given the pace and the angle of the move.

Defenders

Joe Gomez – 7.0

With both senior left backs still injured, the continuing use of Joe Gomez in this position remains. His ability to drive up and down the line, whilst offering a solid defensive base is so impressive. A strong first half that saw him busy and productive. After the restart, he once again showed how vital he can act as the more defensive fullback, with an ease in shutting down potential attacks.

Conor Bradley – 7.0

The young academy product deserves his role in the side and it may solidify his place in Liverpool v2.0. His tenacious stayed and lung busting energy are infectious and he never once let up in a strong first 45-minutes. The next period was much the same from the academy graduate, as he looked to win the ball quickly and as high as possible. Was caught out for the Fulham goal, as a good piece of skill undid his tracking.

Jarell Quansah – 7.0

The England under-21 international defender is now a confined member of the defensive group, which means there was no hesitation to drop him back into the lineup. A tremendous assist for the opening goal, with the vision and technique to switch the play and find Luis Díaz for the opening goal. Was strong in his defensive work and looks so settled amongst elite level players. Upon resumption of the second period, much the same maturity ensued, as Fulham looked to increase their attacking efficiency. Wash unlucky for the Diop goal, as the ball deflected off his leg from the Harry Wilson cross.

Virgil van Dijk – 7.0

The captain and leader of this team, he simply must start as many games as his body will allow. Wash commanding and dominating from the outset, as he strived to push his troops forward and squeeze the play into the opposition half. The second half was about batting away the sporadic pressure that came his way, which he achieved with aplomb. Was caught a little short for the Fulham goal, as Issa Diop managed to get goal side for the decisive touch.

Midfielders

Ryan Gravenberch – 6.0

The Dutch midfielder was given an opportunity to impress at Craven Cottage, which he took well in a strong first half. Was always looking for the ball and got involved in numerous passages of play. After the intermission, he showed good moments and good energy, as the game opened up by the minute.

Subbed – 83 mins

Alexis Mac Allister – 7.0

The Argentina World Cup winner stayed in the centre of the park, after his dominant and emphatic display against Bournemouth. His central role is looking delightful right now, as with Trent out of the side, he is controlling the reds patterns of play. Kept it simple yet effective in the first half and was keen to close down anyone that crossed his zone. The continued success was maintained after the restart, as the former Brighton man kept pressing and controlling high.

Subbed – 66 mins

Harvey Elliott – 6.0

The England under-21 star maintained his spot in the team, with so many midfielders currently unavailable. Showed good energy and invention from the start, with a desire to make a strong impression. The second half was a bustling enterprise that allowed him to give more width, as Cody played that bit narrower.

Subbed – 66 mins

Forwards

Luis Díaz – 7.0

The Colombian flyer is in good overall form right now; therefore, it was important to see him start once more. The former Porto man started on the left, which allowed him to receive and control a long switch from Quansah. With some direct intentions and a slight to deflection, his eventual shot found the inside beat post, as the reds extended their two-legged lead. Switched over to the right half way through that first period. The restarted saw him resume duties from the left, with a couple of counter attacks stemming in tandem with Darwin.

https://twitter.com/AnfieldIndex/status/1750280043765416402

Darwin Núñez – 7.0

The Uruguayan raging bull had to start this game, given his continuing goal contributions and damaging inflicting play. Looked composed and confident in the middle, as the first half went to plan. The second half saw him lively and explosive, as the game opened up a little more. Had a fine strike saved just before the hour, as the home side struggled to contain him. Was so unlucky just after the hour, as a tremendous effort fired just last the post.

Subbed – 66 mins

Cody Gakpo – 5.0

The more collapsed of the centre forwards, his starting position made sense with two runners either side of him. Was largely ineffective through the first half, as he struggled to replicate the rich wing play of the absent Egyptian, Mohamed Salah. Looked more comfortable from the right in the second half, as his team searched for that second goal on the night. Gave away a couple of cheap free kicks in dangerous areas.

Subbed – 83 mins

Substitutes

Curtis Jones – 6.0 (on 66)

Came on to offer energy, yet needed more control in the defensive midfield role.

Diogo Jota – 6.0 (on 66)

Came on as the form attacker in the squad.

Ibrahima Konaté – 6.0 (on 83)

Came on to shore up a tiring defence.

Bobby Clark – 5.0 (on 83)

Came on to stiffen the middle.

Photo: IMAGO

Manager

Jürgen Klopp – 7.0

The German manager went with a team that most expected, within such a busy and demanding stage of the 2023/24 campaign. A decision to start Cody Gakpo made sense, with a need to see how others take on that role in the absence of Mohamed Salah.

The start was perfect, as Luis Díaz struck to take the lead to 1-3 on aggregate. A switch of wide men was carried out midway through the opening 45-minutes, to find a better balance and hopefully the tie winning goal.

The first changes did not occur until the 66th minute, as two key players that played the full match against Bournemouth on Sunday (Darwin and Mac Allister), were withdrawn in preparation for what comes next.

After the equalizer, the manager saw his team ride their luck before making some more defensive changes, to stop an adversary in the ascendancy. The changes helped guide his team to the finish line and the reds made their final place assured.

Steve Smith’s Pre-match Prediction:

Fulham 1 – 2 Liverpool

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