Liverpool have been crowned champions of the Carabao Cup 2022, beating Chelsea in a penalty shoot-out in today’s Final at Wembley Stadium to seal a record ninth triumph.
An end-to-end encounter was ultimately decided from the spot after finishing goalless after 30 minutes of extra-time, marking the most penalty kicks in a League Cup Final.
A total of 88,512 football fans were treated to a thrilling Final, with the national stadium at full capacity for the first time for a domestic cup final since the 2020 showdown.
Starting shot-stopper Caoimhin Kelleher was called into action early on, as Cesar Azpilicueta slid in Christian Pulisic, only for the Irishman to deny the attacker the opening goal within the first five minutes.
At the other end of the pitch, Luis Diaz saw his effort blocked as Sadio Mane skipped past Trevoh Chalobah to supply his team-mate with the goods. Mane himself came close minutes later, with Trent Alexander-Arnold the creator this time, but the winger glanced wide, and Mohamed Salah was off target after Liverpool were awarded a set-piece.
A superb double save from Edouard Mendy on the half-hour mark was the talk of the first half. The ‘keeper initially stopped Naby Keita’s effort from outside the area, before getting fingertips to Mane’s close-range follow-up to keep the score level.
Reds shot-stopper Kelleher was on hand to save from Kai Havertz and the goalkeeper was alert once again to deny Pulisic. But it was Azpilicueta who went closest before the half-time whistle, firing narrowly over the bar from 25 yards out as the two teams entered the break in a stalemate.
Five minutes into the second period, Mason Mount rattled the post. Pulisic picked out the midfielder one-on-one with Chelsea ‘keeper Mendy but the England international’s effort crashed into the upright.
Arguably the chance of the half fell to Salah. Mane’s ball sliced through the Blues defence, timed to perfection with the run of Salah, but the latter’s chipped shot was cleared from the penalty area by Silva.
Joel Matip had the ball in the back of the net in the 67th minute, only for the defender’s header to be ruled out, with Virgil van Dijk adjudged to be in an offside position.
Opportunities came knocking for Liverpool, with Diaz, who broke free down the left channel, denied by the legs of Mendy.
And it was Chelsea this time who saw a goal struck off. Havertz thought he had broken the deadlock for Chelsea, but the flag was up against the German.
Heading into the dying moments of the Final, Alexander-Arnold’s corner was met by van Dijk who towered above the rest to win the header, but the effort drew an injury-time save from Mendy to take the clash to extra-time.
Within the space of the next 30 minutes, Lukaku rippled the net before the strike was ruled offside, and Havertz’s celebrations at the opposite side of the interval were cut short by the flag and it all came down to penalties.
In front of the travelling Merseyside contingent, James Milner, Fabinho, van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold, Salah, Diogo Jota, Divock Origi, Robertson, Harvey Elliott, Ibrahima Konate, and stopper Kelleher all dispatched from 12 yards, with the Reds goalkeeper netting the critical kick of the game to win it for the Reds.
Chelsea XI: Mendy (Arrizabalaga 120'), Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Rudiger, Azpilicueta (James 57'), Kante, Kovacic, Alonso, Mount (Lukaku 74'), Pulisic (Werner 74'), Havertz.
Liverpool XI: Kelleher, Alexander-Arnold, Matip (Konate 90'), van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson (Elliott 79'), Fabinho, Keita (Milner 80'), Salah, Mane (Jota 80'), Diaz (Origi 97').
Chelsea 0-0 Liverpool
(Liverpool win 11-10 on penalties)