Klopp eyes quadruple after League Cup win

Chelsea’s Kepa misses decisive penalty to hand Reds 11-10 victory in final’s shoot-out

AFP February 28, 2022


Jurgen Klopp challenged Liverpool to chase a historic quadruple after the Reds won the League Cup final in a dramatic penalty shoot-out against Chelsea on Sunday.

Klopp's side clinched the first of the four major trophies they are competing for this term when Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga smashed his penalty high over the crossbar.

Kepa was the only player to miss in the shoot-out as Liverpool converted all 11 of their kicks and Chelsea netted 10.

It was a fittingly tense conclusion to a thrilling encounter that finished 0-0 after extra time despite both sides creating numerous chances.

Liverpool had a Joel Matip goal controversially disallowed for a dubious offside against Virgil van Dijk in the second half.

Chelsea were denied three times by the offside flag, with Blues boss Thomas Tuchel furious that Romelu Lukaku's effort didn't survive a VAR check.

Liverpool's record ninth League Cup triumph was their first domestic knockout tournament triumph since 2012.

Having failed to win a trophy last season, Klopp believes his players can use the momentum from their Wembley success to fuel their bid to become the first English club to enjoy a trophy clean-sweep.

The Reds are six points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City with a game in hand, hold a 2-0 lead heading into their Champions League last-16 second leg against Inter Milan and host Norwich in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday.

"This is the start. We are not silly. You need luck. We have to survive, work hard and, we have to play on Wednesday again, which I cannot believe at this moment," Klopp said.

"Anfield will be rocking because of this result and hopefully we can deliver a game to enjoy.

"We don't get nervous when things don't go well. We are more experienced now.

"It's a big one for us. The first time for this group. The atmosphere was outstanding. It was nice to celebrate with the people after the match."

Liverpool's final kick in the shoot-out was coolly converted by keeper Caoimhin Kelleher, who was again deputising for first-choice Allison Becker after playing all but one game in the competition this season.

"The game he played was absolutely incredible. I can remember two brilliant saves. He showed his full skill set in the penalty shoot-out," Klopp said.

"It was like two lions going at each other. It was absolutely crazy. It was one of the most spectacular shoot-outs I ever saw."

Tuchel insisted he will not second-guess his decision to send on Kepa to replace Edouard Mendy, who had made a series of superb saves throughout the match.

Kepa has a reputation as a penalty-saving expert and came off the bench to help win the UEFA Super Cup shoot-out against Villarreal earlier this season.

But the Spaniard failed to repel any of Liverpool's kicks before his own miss.

"We did it before with Kepa, he is slightly better in penalty saving and that is why I made the decision. It is unusual all 11 players need to shoot, he took it a bit too quick," Tuchel said.

"Sometimes these things can turn against you but you make them when they need to be made, not after when people can judge you.

"We gave everything and it was a brilliant match. The disallowed goal for Romelu is a very close call, there are bad feelings about this."

It is a difficult period for Chelsea, whose Russian owner Roman Abramovich on Saturday put the club in care of its trustees in response to claims in the UK Parliament that oligarchs should be stripped of their assets following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Abramovich remains Chelsea's owner and Tuchel is hopeful the European champions' day-to-day routine will not be affected.

"Very confident on a daily basis and how we handle things will not change," he said.


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