Liverpool won their first domestic final in ten years by beating Chelsea 11–10 on penalties to lift the League Cup. Both teams could claim to have been deserved winners in a classic, free-flowing encounter full of scoring chances, notable saves and four goals not allowed.
What ended up being an unlikely duel between two goalkeepers, with Liverpool’s young Irish goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher smashing his penalty past Kepa Arrizabalaga, who had replaced Edouard Mendy in the shoot-out.
Spaniard Arrizabalaga then shot over the bar into the ranks of Liverpool supporters, who were celebrating the club’s first domestic cup win in a decade.
Kepa had come on as a penalty specialist when the clock struck 120 minutes at the end of extra time, replacing Edouard Mendy whose saves had held the final 0-0.
The move paid off for manager Thomas Tuchel in August’s UEFA Super Cup, but this time there was no trophy for Chelsea to add to last year’s Champions League and Club World Cup titles.
Unlike Chelsea, Liverpool allowed 23-year-old Kelleher to retain his place as goalkeeper in the cup competitions, rather than using first choice Alisson Becker for the final.
“There should be room for emotions in professional football,” said Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp.
“He’s a little boy, we ask a lot of him, he starts playing competitively and then we get to the final and I tell him he can’t play?
“I’m two things, a football manager and a human, and the human won this time and it’s so nice that it paid off. He deserved it.”
Liverpool’s last domestic cup final success was in the 2012 League Cup under Kenny Dalglish. Under Klopp, Liverpool won the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League in 2020.
The game started with a pre-match show of solidarity for the people of Ukraine following the invasion by Russia, with applause at Wembley Stadium as the blue and yellow of Ukraine appeared on the stadium screens.
“Some of the videos and clips you are seeing are scary but hopefully it will end soon and we can all have peace,” Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said.
“We stand together for Ukraine because what is happening is terrible.”
The war has thrown the spotlight on Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich, whose continued ownership of the west London club has drawn criticism from British politicians.