Liverpool beat Chelsea in 11-round epic to claim League Cup
Chelsea vs Liverpool: An 11-round penalty shootout concluded that the Reds had beaten the Blues and would lift the League Cup, but it was football fans the world over who were the true winners, for having witnessed a final affair so thrilling at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
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At times, the football bordered on theater, with countless apex moments occurring one after another after another. First half, second half, extra time and penalty shootout — hardly a minute went by without a moment that felt absolutely decisive.
Goal-scoring chances were plentiful throughout, even if the goals themselves were late to the party. Wembley was in full voice from the outset, and they were only spurred on further by a fantastic chess match. Each side had a goal ruled out for offside in a nine-minute stretch midway through the second half. Chelsea had not one, but two, more goals ruled out for the same offense in extra time.
After 21 penalties were converted to begin the shootout, it was Kepa Arrizabalaga, who came on as a substitute in the final moments of extra time specifically for the shootout, who skied his attempt to send the fans behind Caoimhin Kelleher’s goal into raptures.
Chelsea vs Liverpool final score, stats, results
Final score: Chelsea 0 (10), Liverpool 0 (11)
Penalty kick scorers: Chelsea (Alonso, Lukaku, Havertz, James, Jorginho, Rudiger, Kante, Werner, Silva, Chalobah), Liverpool (Milner, Fabinho, Van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold, Salah, Jota, Origi, Robertson, Elliott, Konate, Kelleher)
Penalty kick missers: Chelsea (Arrizabalaga), Liverpool (None)
Shots: Chelsea 11, Liverpool 20
Shots on target: Chelsea 4, Liverpool 5
Possession: Chelsea 46%, Liverpool 54%
3 things we learned - Chelsea vs Liverpool
1. No one blinks (or finishes chances) in a final: Neither side lacks experience in cup finals or big games in general, considering the number of trophies won by the Blues and Reds in recent years. One side was going to win, and the other was going to lose. Everyone understood the stakes and chose to play their part as if there were none — nothing to fear, nothing to lose, only glory to be gained.
2. Pulisic, Havertz, Mount a fluid (if wasteful) threat: Romelu Lukaku started Sunday’s final on the bench, with Kai Havertz as a false-nine Thomas Tuchel’s preference. That meant that Havertz, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount would be interchangeable pieces up top, playing off one another in all areas and combinations. In a word, Chelsea’s attacking play was electric, and should have produced multiple goals given the quality of scoring chances created. Pulisic, particularly, was heavily involved in promising attacking play when Chelsea had prolonged periods of possession early on, and he continued to threaten with the ball as the game stretched out and ping-ponged from end to end. In the past, Pulisic has struggled with the former and largely excelled at the latter. His 73 minutes were stellar from both a Chelsea and USMNT perspective, with the last three 2022 World Cup qualifiers now less than a month away.
3. A new challenge awaits Liverpool: The Reds have run rampant over opponents in recent weeks, closing the gap between themselves and Premier League leaders Manchester City to just three points once level on games played. They’ve done the hard part, riding out the Man City storm and seizing their moment to reel in the defending champions. Now, having won the League Cup at the three-quarter mark of the league season — an awkward time for trophy-winning celebrations, no matter how you spin it — they must take their latest success in stride and immediately return to their robotic, business-like ways next weekend in the PL (following a midweek FA Cup tie). Holding that high note, extending it another few weeks and months, will prove a serious challenge, but not an insurmountable one for these rabid winners.