Match reportLiverpool fight back to gain Carabao Cup semi-final lead over Fulham
Curtis Jones and Cody Gakpo were on target as Liverpool came from behind to beat Fulham 2-1 in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday.
The Cottagers led through Willian’s first-half strike at Anfield, but Jones’ deflected effort brought the Reds level midway through the second period.
And they would go ahead soon after, Gakpo firing home in front of the Kop after good set-up work from fellow substitute Darwin Nunez.
Nunez himself went close to a third goal, but Jürgen Klopp’s side will take a slender advantage into the second leg, which will be played at Craven Cottage on January 24.
Klopp made five changes to the XI that beat Arsenal in the Emirates FA Cup last Sunday.
Captain Virgil van Dijk returned after missing the trip to Emirates Stadium through illness, with Caoimhin Kelleher, Conor Bradley, Ryan Gravenberch and Diogo Jota also brought in.
Trent Alexander-Arnold missed the game due to a knee injury, while Owen Beck was named among the substitutes having been recalled from a loan spell at Dundee.
Liverpool: Kelleher, Bradley, Konate, Van Dijk, Gomez, Mac Allister, Gravenberch (Gakpo, 55), Jones, Elliott (Nunez, 55), Jota, Diaz.
Unused subs: Alisson, Quansah, Beck, Nyoni, McConnell, Clark, Gordon.
It was Jones who had the game’s first effort, with his low 20-yard strike well held by Bernd Leno after five minutes.
The home team dominated possession in the early stages, Jota firing a low strike across goal after good work from both Alexis Mac Allister and Gravenberch.
But it was Fulham who opened the scoring on 19 minutes, as Andreas Pereira was able to burst into the Reds’ penalty area and set up Willian, who kept his cool to rifle a low shot past Kelleher from seven yards.
In an opening period of few chances, Mac Allister fired a free-kick straight into the wall while at the other end Luis Diaz’s timely intervention denied Bobby De Cordova-Reid.
Kelleher then held onto Pereira’s speculative effort, and Joe Gomez skimmed a 25-yard volley wide of the near post as the visitors went in ahead at the break.
After the interval, Gravenberch fired wide after a purposeful break from midfield, Timothy Castagne’s challenge denied Jota, and Jones shot straight at Leno as the home side looked to work their way back into the tie.
Klopp sent on both Nunez and Gakpo 10 minutes into the second half, with Gravenberch and Harvey Elliott replaced, but Liverpool needed Kelleher to keep them in the game as he dived to his right to push away De Cordova-Reid’s angled low strike just after the hour mark.
Mac Allister saw his attempted cross pushed over by Leno, before Liverpool found an equaliser on 68 minutes.
It came from persistent work by Jota, with the ball falling to Jones, whose 25-yard shot took a deflection off Tosin Adarabioyo and beat the wrongfooted Leno.
Three minutes later, the Reds were ahead as Klopp’s substitutes combined to perfect effect, with Nunez escaping down the left and picking out Gakpo, who swept home a first-time finish at the near post.
Jota drove off target from the edge of the box and Nunez was denied three times by Leno late on as Klopp’s side chased a third but had to settle for a one-goal lead at the tie’s midpoint.