The first trophy of the English season was claimed on Sunday, with Liverpool winning an epic League Cup final 11-10 on penalties over Chelsea. They claimed the award for a record of the ninth time and completed step one of an unprecedented quadruple this season.
After 20 successful penalties, Caoimhin Kelleher was the Liverpool hero, stepping up to score 11-10. Then witnessed Kepa Arrizabalaga smash his spot-kick high over the bar to settle the fantastic game.
Kepa Arrizabalaga replaced Mendy in the concluding moments of extra-time. He and Kelleher could not stop any of the first 20 penalties, and the Liverpool keeper converted try no. 21, only for spot-kick specialist Kepa to enhance his attempts well over the bar to witness Liverpool win an 11-10 penalty shootout.
“It’s a mad one. I got close to a few when it came down to me. I didn’t even think I had scored the winning penalty. I’d forgotten I’d got the winning one. All the lads were class; I was just happy to score,” Kelleher said.
Chelsea released a statement on Sunday, ahead of the final, remarking that the circumstance in Ukraine was “horrific.” In contrast, both the teams stood in solidarity, with a message that said “Football Stands Together” before the beginning of the match.
The success of Liverpool signified that the club remains on for an unprecedented haul of four trophies this season. Jurgen Klopp’s side is still in the FA Cup and Champions League and fighting Manchester City for the Premier League title.
For Chelsea, Tuchel could not add to his collection of three trophies since taking over as manager last year. In addition, questions would be put up over his decision to replace the brilliant Edouard Mendy with Kepa. Kepa could not save a single penalty before hitting his spot-kick high over the bar.
The match can be summed up at the succession of missed opportunities, fine goalkeeping, and VAR controversy. Mason Mount is responsible for two major misses in each half.
Both Klopp and Tuchel had goalkeeping problems, with the manager of Liverpool choosing to entrust the 23-year old, Kelleher, ahead of his first choice Alisson and his opponents. Chelsea is picking the Blues No.1 Edouard Mendy instead of Kepa. Tuchel also made the call to bench Romeulu Lukaku.
Kai Havertz began in place of Lukaku and started nicely, with the ball reaching its way to Christian Pulisic early on. Still, Kelleher kept him out from close range when the United States forward should have performed better.
Mendy was in action for 30 minutes to carry out a flawless double save. It came first to deny Naby Keita from range and then keep out Sadio Mane’s strong rebound from all of six yards.
Mount was the following line to miss the golden opportunity when it looked easier to score. He jumped a volley wide of the post with the goal at his mercy just before halftime. He was found guilty another miss four minutes into the second half when found space unmarked in the box. However, he could only hit the post with Kelleher beaten.
Van Dijk and a substitute of Lukaku offered saves from the respective keepers in the injury time in average time. Before, even minutes into extra time, Lukaku had the ball in the net, only for VAR to rule him offside.
Once Liverpool picked up the trophy, Chelsea’s players began strolling towards the dressing room, with Mendy being the last one to leave.