Liverpool win EFL Cup after Van Dijk extra-time header

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  • Post published:February 25, 2024

Liverpool won the League Cup in dramatic fashion after a late header from Virgil van Dijk in extra-time to secure a 1-0 win against Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday.

After a demanding match against a number of inexperienced players, Jurgen Klopp’s injury-plagued team emerged victorious, but it was their seasoned captain who sealed the team’s tenth League Cup victory.

With just two minutes remaining, Van Dijk scored a goal that was controversially disallowed by VAR, but the Dutch defender quickly followed up.

Following Klopp’s shocking revelation that he will stand down at the end of this season, it was Liverpool’s first prize.

The German hopes that Liverpool’s first trophy since winning the FA Cup in 2022 would serve as a launchpad for an amazing farewell tour.

Top-seeded Liverpool will play Southampton in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday and Sparta Prague in the Europa League last 16 as they pursue a quadruple crown.

Chelsea fell to Liverpool in the 2022 League Cup and FA Cup finals, making it another painful experience at Wembley.

Mauricio Pochettino, the manager of the Blues, has requested that Chelsea supporters refrain from judging him based on “winning titles” during his turbulent debut season.

However, Chelsea hasn’t won any domestic championships since the FA Cup in 2018, and they only had themselves to blame for losing so many opportunities during regular time.

Hurt by eleven player injuries, Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson Becker, Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, and Dominik Szoboszlai were among Liverpool’s star absentees.

Conor Bradley and Harvey Elliott, who are both 20 years old, were given the start, and six of Klopp’s substitutes were all under 21.

Luis Diaz led the charge as Liverpool, despite having a young lineup, settled very fast.

Diaz moved into the area to take advantage of Chelsea’s sluggish defence and hit a hard shot that pushed Djordje Petrovic into a good save.

Chelsea’s first sharp raid ought to have given them the lead against the run of play.

Just six yards out, Conor Gallagher’s cross deflected to Cole Palmer, but Caoimhin Kelleher made a fantastic stop to deny his strike.

Ryan Gravenberch was stretchered off after his leg twisted awkwardly during a challenge with Moises Caicedo, adding another injury to Liverpool’s ever-expanding list of injuries.

Raheem Sterling thought he had given Chelsea the lead when he finished from close range after Nicolas Jackson’s cross, but the goal was disallowed because the Senegal striker was tight offside prior to Sterling’s delivery.

In response to Chelsea’s improvement, Cody Gakpo’s glancing header from Andrew Robertson’s cross hit the far post, bringing Liverpool within inches of grabbing the lead.

Liverpool persisted in their attack, and Levi Colwill did a fantastic job of blocking Bradley’s goalbound shot by diving into the melee to block the close-range attempt.

Van Dijk appeared to have given Liverpool the lead on the hour mark when he rose above Ben Chilwell to head in Robertson’s free kick.

However, VAR stepped in, as referee Chris Kavanagh disallowed the score against Wataru Endo for offside after Endo prevented Colwill from marking the Dutch defender.

Axel Disasi had a close-range opportunity to add insult to injury for Liverpool, but the Chelsea defender completely blew it.

Gallagher met Palmer’s cross with a flick that cannoned off the far post, giving Chelsea another chance.

In the closing minutes, Gallagher had a great chance to win it, but he blew it after taking a harsh touch on Palmer’s ball that gave Kelleher the opportunity to save.

Kelleher forced extra time with two more stops in a thrilling finish against Palmer and Christopher Nkunku.

Even though Liverpool’s youthful players lacked Chelsea’s experience, Bobby Clark, James McConnell, Jarell Quansah, and Jayden Danns were never overawed.

Elliott came just inches away from scoring when he volleyed against the post, while Danns nearly guided his header over Petrovic.

With two minutes remaining, Van Dijk met Kostas Tsimikas’s corner with a header that zipped past Petrovic, demonstrating Liverpool’s unwavering resolve. Klopp raised his arms in an almost unbelieving smile.