Liverpool have secured their first piece of silverware of the season as they overcame a formidable Chelsea performance in the Carabao Cup final.
Following a goalless 120 minutes, where both teams came close to snatching the glory, the match went to shoot-outs, and Liverpool held on to their nerves to win it 11-10.
Jurgen Klopp had to change his original plan before kick-off after Thiago Alcantara picked up an injury while warming up.
Naby Keita came in as a last-minute replacement in the starting XI, with Thiago watching on from the bench with tearful eyes.
Thomas Tuchel decided to bench Kepa Arrizabalaga, who played in every Carabao Cup match before the final, and put Edouard Mendy on goal.
Havertz a constant threat
He also stuck with Kai Havertz as his number nine, with Chelsea’s marquee summer signing Romelu Lukaku starting on the bench.
Havertz led the line well and was the focal point of several Chelsea attacks throughout the game, which tested the Red’s defensive capability to its limit.
He created the first big chance of the match by finding Christian Pulisic in a promising position, but the US international could not make the best out of the situation.
Liverpool responded on the other end as Mendy had to pull off two back-to-back saves to keep Sadio Mane from scoring.
Chelsea could have taken the break on the brink of half-time, but Mason Mount missed a glaring opportunity to score as his volley drifted wide off the post.
The tie remained an end-to-end affair after the break. Mount had another golden opportunity, but he could not get past Caoimhin Kelleher, who got chosen ahead of Liverpool’s regular number 1 Alisson Becker, on goal.
Ten minutes later, Mohamed Salah failed to hit the back of the net in a similar one-on-one encounter with Mendy.
Chelsea and Liverpool, both teams, had goals ruled out for offside.
VAR rules out goals
Kai Havertz found the net twice, but in vain, while Joel Matip’s header did not stand as VAR found Virgil van Dijk interfering play from an offside position.
Romelu Lukaku thought he had won it for Chelsea in extra time, but the Belgian’s goal was chalked off in a controversial VAR call.
With the match heading towards penalties, Tuchel brought on Kepa, who had garnered the reputation of a penalty specialist in recent times.
Kepa fails to deliver
The Spaniard was the hero in Chelsea’s shootout victories against Aston Villa and Southampton earlier in the competition.
He also saved a penalty in Chelsea’s FA Cup win over Plymouth a few weeks back.
But, the gamble did not pay off as Kepa could not prevent any of the penalties from going in.
The night got even worse for the 27-year-old, who is reportedly on the sales list next summer, as his kick flew into the stands, confirming Liverpool’s 9th League Cup haul.