Liverpool hold off late Fulham charge to reach Carabao Cup final

By Sports Desk January 24, 2024

Liverpool booked their place in the Carabao Cup final as they capitalised on their first-leg advantage and held a spirited Fulham to a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage.

Luis Diaz’s opener was cancelled out by Issa Diop but the Red’s dug deep in the second leg to claim a 3-2 aggregate victory.

Liverpool will face Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea at Wembley on February 25, two years after defeating the Blues in both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup finals.

A fired up Fulham came out of the blocks fighting as they looked to overturn a 2-1 deficit.

After Joao Palhinha’s first-time volley from Andreas Pereira’s corner sailed over, the hosts continued to push through the overlapping Antonee Robinson whose dangerous delivery failed to connect with a white shirt.

But a moment of complacency saw Liverpool strike the first blow in the 11th minute.

Jarell Quansah sent a long ball forward which appeared routine for Timothy Castagne to claim but the full-back was caught napping by Diaz.

The winger reacted quickly to beat him in the air before he drove into the box and scored past Bernd Leno at his near post.

Diaz had the ball in the back of the net again after Darwin Nunez exploited large gaps between centre-backs Tosin Adarabioyo and Diop but the goal was ruled offside after the striker naively moved too soon.

The Cottagers sought inspiration through Raul Jimenez and the Mexico international’s long-range shot forced Caoimhin Kelleher into action when he tipped the ball wide for a corner.

The hosts, now galvanised, enjoyed a five-minute flurry but despite Willian’s attempt from distance and Tom Cairney finding promising pockets, Marco Silva’s men failed to get the goal they desperately needed.

Fulham’s momentum continued after the break but so did their poor day in front of goal. Second-choice keeper Kelleher failed to collect a high ball, losing out to Bobby Decordova-Reid before Pereira found the post from a tight angle instead of the open net.

Liverpool appeared to have rode the storm and began to turn the screw themselves. After Nunez’s effort whistled past Leno’s left post in the 63rd minute, powerful midfielder Ryan Gravenberch did well to get the ball out of his feet before producing a driven strike which missed the target, much to the delight of Leno who would have been well-beaten.

Fulham blew the tie wide open when they scored in the 77th minute.

Harry Wilson drove down the left and curved a cross into the area where he found Diop, who had galloped forward from the back and expertly claimed the leveller with a neat finish past the keeper.

The west Londoners pushed for a dramatic ending and to take the tie into extra-time but a stubborn Liverpool held on through four added minutes.

Related items

  • Michail Antonio felt officials were against West Ham after European exit Michail Antonio felt officials were against West Ham after European exit

    Michail Antonio felt West Ham were up against 14 players as they bowed out of the Europa League to Bayer Leverkusen.

    Antonio’s early header gave the Hammers hope of overturning a 2-0 first-leg deficit and inflicting a first defeat of the season on Xabi Alonso’s new Bundesliga champions.

    But the bustling striker claimed he did not get a decision all night from card-happy Spanish referee Jose Maria Sanchez and his two assistants.

    “It doesn’t feel like you’re playing against 11 men, it feels like you’re playing against 13 or 14 including the two linos,” Antonio told TNT Sports.

    “You just have to keep pushing and try and make the decisions go your way. And they just weren’t. We had to keep playing our way and keep being professional.”

    West Ham pushed gamely for a second goal to take the tie to extra-time, but as they inevitably flagged Leverkusen substitute Jeremie Frimpong scored with a deflected shot in the last minute to make it 1-1 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate.

    It was a valiant effort but ultimately a sad end to another European adventure for last season’s Conference League winners.

    “We’re very proud of ourselves, to achieve what we’ve achieved over the last few years is incredible,” added Antonio.

    “Three back-to-back years in European quarter-finals I would never have thought that. We were a yo-yo team, fighting relegation, then into Europe.”

    Sanchez booked 11 players and sent off West Ham coach Billy McKinlay, and Sebastian Parrilla from Leverkusen’s staff after a touchline altercation.

    Asked if that skirmish had anything to do with some bad-tempered exchanges between the benches in last week’s first leg, Alonso said with a grin: “I wouldn’t say no.”

    Hammers boss David Moyes was not keen to be drawn on the officiating, but he did say: “I watch a lot of Spanish football but if that’s the way it is you wouldn’t want to watch too many Spanish matches.”

    On his side’s performance, he added: “It was a brilliant team performance, I have to say over the two games.

    “We played a really good team and we had chances to be two or three up. I couldn’t fault the players at all. If I was going out of Europe I wanted to go out like that.”

    In the first half Leverkusen looked as though they may have celebrated their first Bundesliga crown on Sunday a little too much, and Alonso admitted they needed to improve after the break.

    “For sure it was a thrilling game,” he said. “Two different halves. First half we knew West Ham would come with high intensity and we were not comfortable with that.

    “After they scored one we were lucky not to concede a second one. But we showed character in the second half and the substitutes had a good impact. It was a lesson for us.”

  • Jurgen Klopp accepts lack of threat cost Liverpool dear in European exit Jurgen Klopp accepts lack of threat cost Liverpool dear in European exit

    Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp accepted their lack of goal threat failed to put enough pressure on Atalanta to help turn their Europa League quarter-final back in their favour.

    Mohamed Salah’s seventh-minute penalty had raised hopes of a Barcelona 2019-style comeback but the Egypt international missed a relatively straightforward lob to make it 2-0 towards the end of the first half and they faded badly after the break as they exited the competition 3-1 on aggregate.

    That meant for only the third time in the 21st century, England have no teams in the semi-finals of the Champions League or Europa League/UEFA Cup.

    “We didn’t lose the tie tonight, we lost it at home,” Klopp said after a 3-0 first-leg defeat proved decisive.

    “It’s very easy to congratulate Atalanta because they deserved to go through. When you win a tie against us 3-1 in especially this way you deserve it absolutely.

    “But I loved our game, especially the start. I loved the commitment, desire and power we developed in this game but it was clear we had better score from time to time otherwise it could be tricky over 90 minutes.

    “The second goal could have helped a little bit. We have to create a little bit more than we did in the first half as it’s clear you need a result to help destabilise the opponent.

    “If you have a second goal it’s a tricky one as the next goal is extra time but we didn’t get to that point and we will never really know how that would have looked.

    “Disappointed we didn’t go through but not frustrated or angry. If you don’t deserve it, it’s all good.”

    Salah has looked well short of his clinical best since returning from almost two months out with a hamstring problem.

    Even though he has scored six in 11 game since he came back two of those have been penalties and he is squandering more chances he would normally be expected to take.

    “I’m not particularly concerned. That’s what strikers do. That’s how it it is. We have to go through it, he has to go through it,” added Klopp.

    “He is one of most experienced players in the squad. That’s pretty much all.

    “It’s not that Mo didn’t miss chances before in his life, that’s part of the game. The penalty was super convincing, a super penalty then the next chance that was unlucky, but it’s not the first time has has missed chances like that.

    “I won’t make a big story of it. I’m not particularly concerned.”

  • Liverpool exit Europa League despite win at Atalanta Liverpool exit Europa League despite win at Atalanta

    Liverpool crashed out of the Europa League after they failed to turn around their 3-0 first-leg defeat to Atalanta despite winning 1-0 at Gewiss Stadium.

    Jurgen Klopp’s men took the lead from the spot in the seventh minute through Mohamed Salah but could not find the goals needed as they fell to a 3-1 aggregate loss in the quarter-finals.

    West Ham were knocked out by Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen at London Stadium, also going out 3-1 on aggregate.

    The Hammers gave themselves hope, both in the tie and of inflicting a first defeat of the season on Leverkusen, courtesy of Michail Antonio’s first-half goal.

    But it was not enough as Leverkusen scored late on through Jeremie Frimpong.

    Roma held off AC Milan to advance to the semi-finals.

    Daniele De Rossi’s side, who won the first leg 1-0, scored two quickfire goals through Gianluca Mancini and Paulo Dybala to strengthen their advantage.

    Despite Mehmet Zeki Çelik’s red card for a late challenge on Rafael Leao and Matteo Gabbia pulling one back in the 85th minute, the hosts managed to see out the match.

    Marseille had to rely on penalties to claim their last-eight win over Benfica.

    Benfica went to Stade Velodrome with a 2-1 advantage.

    Faris Moumbagna opened the scoring for the hosts but both defences proved to be stubborn as the match went the distance after extra-time.

    Antonio Silva and Angel Di Maria missed from 12 yards before Luis Henrique scored the decisive spot-kick to send the French club through.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.