The Carabao Cup final saw Chelsea and Liverpool meet at Wembley, as both sides went head to head for the first domestic trophy of the season. Heading into the game, it was hard to split the teams, and this proved to be the case across 120 minutes of action and a dramatic penalty shootout, which Liverpool eventually won 11-10.
You could say that the Carabao Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool was eagerly anticipated because the teams are very much evenly matched. And, beyond this, they’re both clubs who have enjoyed success in recent times. So, it was always going to be a real battle for either side to gain the upper hand.
In terms of how things went on the pitch during the first half, you couldn’t have asked for anything more. Well, except goals. Christian Pulisic had gone close to putting Chelsea ahead within the first five minutes before Luis Diaz, Sadio Mane, and Mo Salah went close for Liverpool.
The main talking point of the first half was the incredible double save pulled off by Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy. He got a palm low to Naby Keita’s long-range effort before somehow getting his fingertips on Mane’s close-range follow-up, diverting the ball over the crossbar.
It was as good as scoreless first half anyone could have hoped for, and the second forty-five had plenty of talking points, too. England’s Mason Mount hit the post, a Salah flick was cleared off the line by Thiago Silva, and Joel Matip scored, but his goal was ruled out for offside.
Goals being ruled out became a running theme, with Kai Havertz and then Romelu Lukaku both putting Chelsea ahead. Still, with manager Thomas Tuchel celebrating on the touchline, both goals were subsequently chalked off. So, with chances for both sides failing to find the back of the net, it was down to a penalty shootout, but not before some further drama ensued.
Tuchel had a plan for penalties, which involved bringing on Kepa Arrizabalaga for Mendy in goal. While Mendy had proven himself at AFCON in a penalty shootout recently, Kepa, who helped Chelsea lift the Super Cup by saving two spot-kicks, was the man entrusted with facing pens from Liverpool. But things didn't exactly go to plan.
It’s fair to say it was one of the most dramatic penalty shootouts to have taken place in a long time, with the final result coming in at 11-10 in Liverpool's favour. And, there were some fantastic efforts, but it’s when it came down to the keepers that counted. Caoimhin Kelleher, who Jurgen Klopp stuck with for the final, scored his effort with aplomb.
But then up stepped the confident Kepa, who promptly lifted his spot-kick well over the crossbar, handing victory to Liverpool. It left Tuchel ruing his decision to replace arguably the best keeper in the world, who had pulled off some fine saves across the 120 minutes. And Liverpool’s victory could well prove to be the boost they need to wrestle the title away from Man City.