Liverpool won the Carabao Cup after narrowly edging a dramatic penalty shootout.
Following 120 minutes of pulsating action at Wembley Stadium, Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga missed the decisive penalty after his Liverpool counterpart Caoimhin Kelleher had scored.
There had been multiple goals ruled out during the game, with very little to separate two excellent teams.
But after some excellently taken penalties, with no players missing and neither keepers making a save, Arrizabalaga — subbed on shortly before the final whistle because of his penalty shootout expertise — blasted the decisive penalty over the bar.
The Carabao Cup victory is Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s first domestic cup victory since he joined in 2015.
It was the European champions who started on top, with American forward Christian Pulisic shooting straight at Kelleher in the Liverpool goal from close range inside the opening 10 minutes.
But after a fast start from Chelsea, Liverpool fought its way back into the game, dominating the ball and possession whilst struggling to break down a stubborn and resolute defense.
On the half hour mark, Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy pulled off a remarkable double save, first saving Naby Keita’s driving shot and then denying Sadio Mane from close range when it looked easier to score.
And just before the halftime break, Mason Mount had an excellent opportunity to open the scoring, but his volley from close range flew just past Kelleher’s post.
The England international had another excellent chance to get his goal minutes into the second half, but instead hit the post after being excellently played through by Pulisic.
Despite Chelsea’s pressure, Mohamed Salah had a fantastic opportunity to break the deadlock but his chip was cleared of the line by a diving Thiago Silva.
Liverpool thought it had finally got the lead after Joel Matip headed home from close range after what appeared to be a cleverly worked freekick. However, after a VAR review, it was deemed that Virgil van Dijk had been interfering with play from an offside position in the buildup as the goal was ruled out.
Liverpool’s January addition from Porto, Luis Díaz, could only shoot straight at Mendy minutes later.
Chelsea had its own goal ruled out for offside in the 77th minute, second half substitute Timo Werner offside before he crossed for his fellow German international Kai Havertz to head home.
After some tight and nervy minutes, van Dijk’s header from a corner kick in stoppage time looked like it might win the game, only for Mendy to claw it out.
With almost the final kick of the game, Romelu Lukaku nearly grabbed a winner, but his close-range effort was kept out by Kelleher.
The Belgian striker thought he’d given his side a valuable lead in the opening few minutes of extra-time, but he had just strayed offside.
Havertz had the ball in the net again, but once again, the offside flag ruled it out.
Just seconds before the game went to a penalty shootout, the drama was heightened even more when Chelsea’s superstar keeper Mendy was substituted for Kepa Arrizabalaga in an effort to provide a winning edge.
However, both Arrizabalaga and Kelleher had few chances to save penalties, such was the high standard of them.
And after all 11 players on both teams scored, it came down to the keepers. 23-year-old Kelleher blasted home before Arrizabalaga blasted his effort over the bar, sealing the victory for Liverpool.
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