AnalysisCarabao Cup final: Five things we loved in Liverpool's Wembley victory

By Liverpool FC


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Virgil van Dijk was the hero as Liverpool beat Chelsea 1-0 at Wembley to lift the Carabao Cup for a record 10th time.

The Reds captain netted the winning goal two minutes from the end of extra-time on Sunday, settling another remarkable and dramatic showpiece and securing Jürgen Klopp’s side the first silverware of the campaign in the process.

Here are five things we loved on an incredible afternoon in the capital…

Van Dijk the colossus

Denied once, but not a second time.

Van Dijk thought he had provided the breakthrough on the hour mark here when he headed home Andy Robertson’s free-kick, only to see the goal disallowed after a VAR review, for an offside against Wataru Endo.

The captain’s moment would come, though. In the 118th minute, substitute Kostas Tsimikas swung in a corner from the right and Van Dijk timed his arrival perfectly to glance his header across Djordje Petrovic and into the far corner.

Cue bedlam among the Liverpool supporters, and among Klopp, his staff and his players.

Big games call for big players to produce big moments, and that’s exactly what Van Dijk, who was outstanding all afternoon, did.

Klopp’s kids come of age

This was a day when so many in red came of age.

For the first time ever in a major final, Liverpool started with three players aged 21 or younger, and by the time the game finished they had three teenagers on the field, as well as a couple in their early 20s.

All of them stood up.

Harvey Elliott was magnificent, and so was Conor Bradley until he was replaced. On came Bobby Clark (19), James McConnell (19) and Jayden Danns (18) and the boys let nobody down. The same went for Jarell Quansah (21), who arrived for the second half of extra-time.

What pride the club’s Academy staff in Kirkby must be feeling this evening.

Caoimhin Kelleher goalkeeper
Caoimhin Kelleher
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The brilliance of Kelleher

Caoimhin Kelleher loves this competition, and no wonder.

The hero of the hour against Chelsea two years ago, the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper produced another precious showing at Wembley.

His first-half save from Cole Palmer was special, as was his spread to deny Conor Gallagher after the break.

All afternoon he repelled everything Chelsea threw at him, so calm and so composed with both his hands and his feet.

“Obviously these are the moments you dream of – celebrating with the fans and winning a trophy at Wembley,” said Kelleher post-match. “It’s hard to describe.”

Klopp’s celebration says it all

He may be leaving at the end of the season, but Klopp is ready to leave us with a few more memories yet.

The beaming smile on the manager’s face here said it all. This was a performance, and a victory, that embodied everything Liverpool have been under him: resilient, full of belief, thrilling and always, always 100 per cent committed.

Nobody who was at Wembley will forget today. The manager certainly won’t. He should be so proud of his team, and of what he has created.

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A team effort

It takes a team effort to win a trophy, and this was a team effort in every sense.

Van Dijk was named as the official Player of the Match at the final whistle, but could anyone have argued had Kelleher won the award? Or Endo, who delivered a midfield masterclass? Or Ibrahima Konate? Luis Diaz?

Wherever you looked, there were heroes on the pitch wearing red.

There will be some tired legs, no doubt, but that’s for tomorrow. For today, Liverpool can celebrate a truly fantastic victory.



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