All was up for grabs as Chelsea and Liverpool - two of England’s finest teams, faced off in a thrilling Carabao Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. The battle for the first trophy of the regular English season truly lived up to its billing.
The game saw four goals disallowed for offside. But the real men who ran the show were those between the sticks on both ends of the pitch. Chelsea goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy and Liverpool counterpart, Caoimhin Kelleher both produced astonishing saves that kept the game goalless well into extra time. When the extra time could not produce a winner, the inevitable decider for the game came down to a penalty shootout.
Chelsea second choice goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was introduced, replacing Mendy in the final moments of extra time; a gamble that came costly for the blues. He and the Liverpool keeper failed to keep out any of the first twenty penalties. After Kelleher had converted the twenty first penalty for the Reds, Kepa sky-rocketed his effort over the bar to see Liverpool win 11-10 on penalties and their talismanic Dutch defender, Virgil Van Dijk walk away with the man of the match accolade.
The Carabao Cup is an English domestic trophy that is competed for by teams in various English divisions. For this year, the total prize money for the entire tournament was £200,000. Eventual winners Liverpool walked away with £100,000, runners up, Chelsea got £50,000 whereas semi-finalists Arsenal and Tottenham both collected £25,000.
In his tenure at Liverpool, German tactician Jurgenn Klopp has had a knack for adding on to the already rich Anfield trophy cabinet, managing five major trophies, and in three months he could add three more to become the first ever English side to achieve a quadruple of Carabao cup, FA cup, Premier League and Champions League. As of now, Manchester United’s 1999 treble of the FA, Premier League and Champions League remains a high watermark in the English game.