Liverpool won an enthralling Carabao Cup final 11-10 on penalties against Chelsea.
Jurgen Klopp’s number two ‘keeper Caoimhin Kelleher clinically put his team 11-10 ahead in the shoot-out before Blues substitute keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga blazed over the crossbar to hand the trophy to the Reds following a 120-minute goalless thriller at Wembley that saw four disallowed goals including three for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
Chelsea boss’ last gasp decision to bring on penalty specialist Kepa for man of the match Edouard Mendy ultimately backfired. Tuchel’s sentiment was understandable as Kepa had kept goal in earlier rounds, but Mendy had made a string of saves to deny Liverpool during the game.
Match winner Kelleher, in for regular Reds keeper Alisson Becker, deservedly had his day in the limelight and enjoyed a fine game in goal.
A terrific open game saw Kelleher deny Christian Pulisic with a point blank save in the first half before Mendy saved from Naby Keita and Sadio Mane on the half hour. Chelsea’s Mason Mount missed from close range just before half time then struck a post on the resumption.
Liverpool also went close, Mo Salah having an effort cleared off the line before VAR controversially ruled out a Joel Matip goal. Mendy stopped two Luis Diaz efforts then brilliantly from Virgil van Dijk in stoppage time. Into extra time and Kelleher saved from Romelu Lukaku before Lukaku and Kai Havertz, for a second time, had efforts chalked off for offside.
Klopp told Sky Sports: “I am happy for the people to celebrate something like this. Chelsea are incredibly strong, we matched each other.”
Kelleher described his winning penalty was “more hit and hope”. He told Sky Sports, “I got close to a few but all the penalties were very high quality, thankfully we were able to win.”
Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson told Sky Sports: “It was amazing, (it’s) very special to win trophies at this football club. Always difficult when it goes to penalties. We have used all the squad, academy, first team, all chipped in which makes it really special.”
After celebrating a first domestic cup final win for a decade Liverpool will attempt to close the gap again on Premier League pacesetters Manchester City who are six points ahead following a 1-0 win against Everton at Goodison Park.
Phil Foden scored the all-important 78th minute winner but Frank Lampard’s side had a penalty controversially ruled out when Rodri looked to have handled.
The battle for Champions League spots is hotting up with West Ham closing the gap on Manchester United after a 1-0 win over Wolves courtesy of a Tomas Soucek strike.
The Reds dropped points at home to Watford. Arsenal, who didn’t have a game due to the cup final, are level on points with the Hammers and also have three games in hand on both clubs.
The Gunners have played a game fewer than north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who bounced back to winning ways with a 4-0 triumph against Leeds United at Elland Road.
Matt Doherty, Dejan Kulusevski and Harry Kane’s settled the contest inside 30 minutes. Son Heung-min completed the scoring in the second half to the delight of head coach Antonio Conte.
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa was sacked after the game with his side two points above the relegation zone.
Bielsa’s near four-year tenure at the club brought the club back into the top flight after a 16-year absence and his departure was the “toughest decision” for club chairman Andrea Radrizzani.
“With Marcelo as our head coach, we had three incredible campaigns and the good times returned to Elland Road,” he said in a statement. “He changed the culture of the club and brought a winning mentality to us all.” Radrizzani added: “I have to act in the best interest of the club and I believe a change is required now in order to secure our Premier League status.”
Newcastle United look to be pulling clear in an intriguing relegation scrap and enjoyed a 2-0 win at Brentford who had Josh Dasilva sent off amidst a poor run of form.
Burnley drew 1-1 at Crystal Palace but lost 2-0 to Leicester City, James Maddison and Jamie Vardy hitting late goals at Turf Moor on Tuesday night.
The Clarets remain in the drop zone with Watford and Norwich, who lost 2-0 at Southampton.
With eight points separating the bottom seven clubs the relegation battle will be nerve jangling for fans of teams involved at the wrong end of the table.