Liverpool beat Chelsea to win thrilling Carabao Cup final as Virgil van Dijk scores the extra-time winning goal

Liverpool beat Chelsea to win thrilling Carabao Cup final as Virgil van Dijk scores in extra-time

Virgil van Dijk struck with a dramatic extra-time header as Liverpool beat Chelsea 1-0 to win the Carabao Cup and keep their hopes of a historic quadruple alive.

The Dutch defender rose the highest to meet Konstantinos Tsimikas’ 118th-minute corner in the 64th League Cup final at Wembley, sealing Liverpool the trophy for a record tenth time.

Jurgen Klopp, in his farewell season, also steered the club to glory over Chelsea two years ago and has now won seven pieces of silverware in charge of the Merseyside giants.

Raheem Sterling and Van Dijk both had goals disallowed by VAR in normal time, while Cody Gakpo and Conor Gallagher struck the woodwork in an action-packed game that appeared destined for penalties.

As extra-time beckoned, Gallagher had a huge chance to secure Chelsea their sixth League Cup, but Caoimhin Kelleher came to the rescue for Liverpool with an excellent save to deny the England midfielder.

In a breathless first seven minutes, Chelsea held off two Liverpool free-kicks from dangerous positions before Andrew Robertson found Luis Diaz with an inviting cross which the forward tamely headed into the gloves of Petrovic.

Chelsea registered their first shot on target five minutes later, but Malo Gusto’s driven strike lacked both power and precision and was easily collected by Kelleher.

Klopp’s men – far and away the more threatening side in the opening exchanges – responded with vigour, with the impressive Petrovic denying Alexis Mac Allister and Diaz in quick succession.

Chelsea had a glorious opportunity to take the lead against the run of play as the ball deflected to Cole Palmer on the edge of the six-yard box with the goal gaping.

But Kelleher, starting in place of Liverpool’s injured number one Alisson, made himself big to keep the England international out, with every fan inside Wembley expecting the net to bulge.

The Blues grew in stature as the first half wore on and Raheem Sterling appeared to nudge his team in front from close-range strike in the 32nd minute. However, VAR confirmed Nicolas Jackson was offside by a whisker in the build-up and the goal was disallowed.

After Ryan Gravenberch was stretchered off, Liverpool attacker Gakpo rose brilliantly to meet an enticing cross from Robertson and headed against the post, much to the relief of a rooted Petrovic, who could only watch on in hope.

The Reds started the second half much the stronger of the two sides and the first real opportunity fell to Wataru Endo, but the Japan midfielder fired wide with a wild attempt from outside the box.

Petrovic once again found himself at the heart of the action as he parried away a volleyed effort from Harvey Elliott to keep the scoreline goalless in the 58th minute.

Perhaps the game’s most controversial moment arrived on the hour-mark as Van Dijk outjumped Ben Chilwell to meet Robertson’s free-kick before beating the Chelsea goalkeeper with an unstoppable header.

But the Dutchman’s header was subsequently chalked off by Chris Kavanagh and the video assistant referee after Endo was adjudged to have been offside while preventing Colwill from marking the Liverpool captain.

The woodwork again came into play in the 76th minute after Gallagher flicked Palmer’s pass against the far post with Liverpool’s energy levels appearing to wane.

With five minutes remaining of normal time, Palmer again found Gallagher in acres of space, but the onrushing midfielder was denied by Kelleher before firing over the bar just moments later.

As extra-time approached, Ibrahima Konate and Kelleher combined in a frenzied passage of pinball to somehow keep out the opposition, with Pochettino going through all the emotions in the Chelsea dugout.

Liverpool had the first big chance of extra-time as Petrovic denied 18-year-old Jayden Danns with an acrobatic stop before Elliott scuffed a strike into the side netting.

After replacing Gallagher in the 97th minute, a lively Noni Madueke tested Kelleher with a curled effort from range which the Republic of Ireland international pounced on with ease.

Petrovic made a superb save to keep Elliott’s header out from a tight angle with five minutes remaining of extra-time before Van Dijk sent Liverpool fans into raptures, nodding home a tantalising corner from Liverpool substitute Tsimikas.

The Reds held on to seal their tenth League Cup title and an emotional Pochettino appeared close to tears at the full-time whistle as he was denied his first trophy in English football.

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