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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium

Extra-time heartache for Chelsea as they fall at last hurdle in EFL cup final

Wembley Stadium Picture: Paul Lagan
Wembley Stadium Picture: Paul Lagan

By Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium

Chelsea 0 v Liverpool1 (AET)


Virgil Van Dijk scored a late, late goal which left Chelsea potless at Wembley this afternoon as the Scousers took the first domestic trophy of the season.

It was a game of mild drama throughout with little serious top-level quality.

Both sides had some excellent chances to kill the game off in the regulation 90 minutes, but strikers of the quality both sides had in yesteryears are in short supply.

It looked like the game was heading I to another penalty shoot-out, but in the 28th minute of extra time a simple header from the unchallenged centre-back saw the glancing effort zip past an otherwise excellent Djordje Petrovic.

Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino still hasn't won a trophy on English soil.

This was the best chance this season.

It's the FA Cup on Wednesday as the Blues face Leeds United at Stamford |Bridge, and the hopes and dreams of another visit to Wembley will rise again.

Luis Diaz forced the first save of the game on nine minutes, when a sweeping Liverpool counter-attack saw the Columbia hitman loop a header towards goal from an angle. But Djordje Petrovic was equal to the task, plucking the ball out of the air with ease.

Malo Gusto had the west Londoners' first shot on target, on 13 minutes, on the edge of the are a volley was weak and did not trouble Caoimhin Kelleher.

Petrovic again thwarted Diaz a minute later, scooping his daisy-cutter away from the goal.

A quick break by the Blues on 20 minutes saw Kelleher deny Cole Palmer a goal when his close range shot was parried away by the stopper. The follow0up by Nicolas Jackson saw his effort deflected away by Ibrahima Konate.

Chelsea were denied a goal by VAR when Raheem Sterling tucked home a Jackson right byline cross on 32 minutes.

Liverpool then hit Petrovic's left upright with a regulation cross from the left and Cody Gakpo's header, pinging the base of the woodwork before being cleared.

Ben Chilwell and Conor Bradley had a bit of handbags just before the half-time whistle which was accompanied by a melee of pushing and shoving by players.

Referee Chris Kavanagh gave a yellow card to the main protagonists.

There were no changes by either side at half-time.

A snap shot by Endo two minutes after the restart signalled the Reds intent in trying for a quick goal.

Chelsea best option is to absorb the attacks from Liverpool and resort to counter-attacking.

It almost worked on 52 mi jutes but the ball fell awkwardly to Enzo and he couldn't get control of it and it drifted to Kelleher.

A stupid and needless foul by Gallagher on 60 minutes saw a perfect left-footed in-swinging curler to Virgil Van Dijk. The giant skipper headed home virtually unchallenged from Ben Chigwell.

But VAR intervened again for a possible offside.

Quite why the referee was asked to go to the pitch side camera is unknown – it was either on or offside.

But Kavanagh decided disallow the goal.

Ex-Liverpool winger Sterling's day ended when he was replaced by Christopher Nkunku on 66 minutes.

Gusto missed a sitter at the far post on 69 minutes when a Chilwell corner was knocked to the far post. But the right-back could not direct the ball in. Instead, it looped into the air and was clutched gleefully by Kelleher.

A lovely quick break by the Blues saw palmer pass to Gallagher. The midfielder's first-time strike, rebounded off the base of Kelleher's right post.

Gallagher should have scored from another break, but Kelleher smothered the goal-bound effort.

Chelsea brought on Mykhailo Mudryk for Jackson on 90 minutes.

Then there was a period of pinball in the six-yard box which saw Kelleher once again come to the Reds' aid as it looked as if the Blues were going to score.

Petrovic made fine fingertip save to prevent Jayden Danns's header from eight-yards out from going into his net.

That prompted the end of Gallagher's game with Noni taking his place.

A Noni run and shot 20 minutes I to extra time, took a slight deflection on its way, reducing the pace a little. It was enough to allow Kelleher to dive to his right and snaffle the ball.

Trevoh Chalobah replaced Chilwell on 23 minutes.

Petrovic made a double save to keep the fin al alive and the woodwork was once again involved as the players tired and mistakes increased, increasing the jeopardy and the seconds ticked by.

But wit two minutes left, Chelsea were undone and it was so simple as to be infuriating for the west Londoners.

A basic in-swinging corner was met unchallenged by Van Dijk and Liverpool went ahead.

Teams: Chelsea: Petrovic, Disasi, Sterling, Enzo, Jackson, Palmer, Chilwell, Gallagher, Caicedo, Colwill, Gusto

Subs: Sanchez, Mudryk, Madueke, Bettinelli, Chalobah, Nkunku, Gilchrist, Tauriainen, Gee

Liverpool: Kelleher, Endo, Van Dijk, Mac Allister, Gakpo, Elliott, Robertson, Gravenberch, Bradley

Subs: Adrian, Gomez, Tsimikas, Clark, McConnell, Koumas, Danns, Quansah, Nyoni


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