Liverpool fight back to beat Leicester in League Cup

Reds come from two goals down to make entry into semi-finals through penalties

AFP December 23, 2021


Liverpool came from two goals down to beat Leicester on penalties after a pulsating League Cup quarter-final ended 3-3 at Anfield as Tottenham and Chelsea also made the semi-finals on Wednesday.

Spurs were 2-1 winners over West Ham and will face Chelsea in the last four after they needed two late goals to see off Brentford 2-0.

Liverpool will take on Arsenal in the semi-finals over two legs in January.

All three matches went ahead in front of full crowds despite the worrying rise of coronavirus case numbers that had seen last weekend's Premier League schedule decimated by call offs.

Leicester's previous two fixtures had been called off due to a combination of a coronavirus outbreak in the squad and a mounting injury list.

However, Brendan Rodgers was able to name a close to full strength side on his return to Anfield and it showed early on against a much-changed Liverpool.

Jamie Vardy struck twice inside the first 13 minutes as he angled a drive across Caoimhin Kelleher and then tapped in Patson Daka's pass from close range.

Jurgen Klopp had made 10 changes from the side that drew 2-2 at Tottenham on Sunday with Liverpool also depleted by four positive Covid cases.

However, it was one of their more experienced starters who got them back in the game as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain smashed home from the edge of the area.

Leicester restored their two-goal cushion before half-time thanks to James Maddison's piledriver from 30 yards that flew past Kelleher.

Klopp introduced three first-team regulars at half-time and one of them, Diogo Jota, gave Liverpool life again 22 minutes from time.

Kasper Schmeichel then needed to produce a stunning save to deny the Portuguese a second, but Leicester still could not hold out as Takumi Minamino sent the game to penalties in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Minamino then missed with the chance to win the tie from the spot in the shootout, but Kelleher saved from Luke Thomas and Ryan Bertrand before Jota fired home the winning penalty.

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte showed his determination to end the club's 13-year trophy drought as soon as possible as he named Harry Kane among a strong starting line-up.

But it was the other two of Spurs' front three who were on target in north London.

Steven Bergwijn scored his first goal of the season after two clever one-twos with Pierre Emile Hojbjerg.

Tottenham's lead lasted just three minutes as West Ham seized upon Eric Dier's slack pass and Jarrod Bowen fired low past Hugo Lloris.

Two minutes later it was 2-1 as Bergwijn this time turned provider for Moura to prod home from close range.

"In England it's very difficult to win something," said Conte, who will come up against his old club in the last four.

"It's good for Tottenham to reach the semi-finals of this competition. You can see the names of these teams that have reached the semi-finals - Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal with us - so every side wants to try to lift this trophy."

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel handed debuts to academy prospects Harvey Vale, Jude Soonsup-Bell and Xavier Simons with the Blues short of seven players due to a Covid outbreak.

However, Tuchel emptied his bench in the second half with the introduction of N'Golo Kante, Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, Reece James and Jorginho.

And that extra quality made the difference as Pontus Jansson turned James' cross into his own net 10 minutes from time.

Jorginho then stroked home a penalty after Pulisic had been upended in the box.


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