Liverpool won the League Cup in dramatic fashion as Virgil van Dijk’s header late in extra-time sealed a 1-0 win against Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday.
Jurgen Klopp’s injury-hit side finished a gruelling clash with a host of raw youngsters on the pitch, but it was their experienced captain who clinched the club’s 10th League Cup triumph.
Van Dijk earlier had a goal controversially disallowed by VAR, but the Dutch defender pounced to nod home with just two minutes left. It was Liverpool’s first trophy following Klopp’s bombshell announcement that he will step down at the end of this season.
The German will hope Liverpool’s first silverware since the 2022 FA Cup will be the springboard for an incredible farewell tour. It was another bitter Wembley experience for Chelsea, who lost the 2022 League Cup and FA Cup finals against Liverpool.
Chelsea remain without domestic silverware since the 2018 FA Cup and had only themselves to blame after missing a host of chances in normal time. Ravaged by injuries to 11 players, Liverpool’s list of star absentees included Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson Becker, Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota and Dominik Szoboszlai. That meant starts for 20-year-olds Conor Bradley and Harvey Elliott, while six of Klopp’s substitutes were 21 or younger.
Despite their youthful line-up, Liverpool settled quickly as Luis Diaz led the charge. Taking advantage of Chelsea’s hesitant defending, Diaz advanced into the area for a fierce strike that forced a good save from Djordje Petrovic.
Against the run of play, Chelsea should have taken the lead with their first incisive raid. Conor Gallagher’s cross deflected to Cole Palmer just six yards out, but his strike produced a superb save from Caoimhin Kelleher.
Ryan Gravenberch joined Liverpool’s ever-growing injury list when he was stretchered off after the midfielder’s leg twisted awkwardly in a challenge with Moises Caicedo. Raheem Sterling thought he had given Chelsea the lead with a close-range finish from Nicolas Jackson’s cross, but the goal was disallowed for a tight offside against the Senegal striker before his assist.
Responding to Chelsea’s improvement, Liverpool were inches away from taking the lead through Cody Gakpo, whose glancing header from Andrew Robertson’s cross hit the far post.
Liverpool kept coming and Bradley’s goalbound shot was brilliantly blocked by Levi Colwill, who threw himself into the fray to repel the close-range effort.