Liverpool (Premier League outright – Liverpool 11/4, Chelsea 150/1) have won their first domestic cup trophy under Jurgen Klopp after defeating Chelsea 11-10 in an extraordinary penalty shootout to land the EFL Cup.
The match finished 0-0 after 120 minutes though the scoreline did not reflect the contest which was a Wembley thriller.
VAR chalked off a goal apiece and neither side could find the crucial breakthrough, which meant penalties were required.
Kepa Arrizabalaga – summoned from the bench just before the shootout to replace Edouard Mendy in goal – was ultimately the villain of the piece as he blasted his penalty over after all 21 players before him had scored theirs.
After 67 minutes, in which both sides could and should have scored, Liverpool did have the ball in the net when Joel Matip headed in a knockdown from Sadio Mane following a Trent Alexander Arnold free kick.
However, VAR replays showed Virgil Van Dijk was offside and interfering with play, leading to the goal being chalked off.
Chelsea then had their own complaints with VAR when substitute Romelu Lukaku swept home after a through ball, as he too was deemed to be marginally offside.
Kai Havertz also had the ball in the net, but the flag once again went up and play resumed quickly.
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Just before the 120 minutes expired, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel made the bold call to put Kepa on for the shootout, owing to his superior record at saving penalties – this coming three years after the Spaniard had refused to be substituted in similar fashion against Manchester City in the final of the same competition.
However, neither keeper could lay a glove on the 21 spot kicks taken before Kepa decisively sent his effort into the crowd.
After the game, Liverpool keeper Caoimhin Kelleher, who Klopp stuck with in goal after playing in the competition all season, said he was thrilled to help the Reds secure their first domestic cup success since 2012.
“It’s a mad one,” he said. “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.
“It was more hit and hope. I got close to a few but all the penalties were very high quality thankfully we were able to win.”
Meanwhile, in the Premier League, West Ham’s (12/1 to finish in top four) hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season were given a big boost as they secured a narrow 1-0 win against Wolves at the London Stadium.
Tomas Soucek, celebrating his 27th birthday, scored the only goal of the game when he turned home Michail Antonio’s cross from close range.
It was a hard-fought but deserved win for the Hammers, who got back to winning ways after two consecutive draws.
They are now fifth in the table, two points adrift of Manchester United and a point above Arsenal, though the Gunners do have three games in hand.
Wolves remain eighth and the loss has dealt a blow to the hopes of a European place for Bruno Lage’s side.
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