Liverpool Win the 2023-2024 EFL Cup: The Journey | OneFootball

Liverpool Win the 2023-2024 EFL Cup: The Journey | OneFootball

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Friends of Liverpool

·4 March 2024

Liverpool Win the 2023-2024 EFL Cup: The Journey

Article image:Liverpool Win the 2023-2024 EFL Cup: The Journey

The Football League Cup has undergone numerous iterations over the years, from being the Milk Cup to the Coca-Cola Cup via the Worthington Cup and now the Carabao Cup. In fact, one of the only constants throughout the cup’s long history is Liverpool winning it. It took until 1981 for the Reds to enjoy victory in the EFL Cup, but once they had they almost couldn’t stop. They won it four times in succession before finally relinquishing their grip on it to Norwich City in 1985.

It took Liverpool ten years to win it again, but once we had we won it on a fairly regularly basis to maintain our record number of wins in the competition.

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For a lot of Liverpool supporters, the fact that Manchester City drew level with us with eight wins in 2021 was a persona affront. Pep Guardiola’s side were facing 115 charges from the Premier League of financial misconduct, which meant that their wins weren’t taken all that seriously but were still seen as being a threat.

With that in mind, it was lovely for Liverpool to reclaim the record number of wins in our own right in 2022, defeating Chelsea in the process. When we reached the final again two years later, facing the same opposition, the chance to further our record number of victories was too much to be ignored.

Despite having several first-team regulars out through injury, Liverpool’s youngsters stepped up admirably to help the Reds. Klopp’s Kids, as they’re being termed, beat a star-studded Chelsea team in the Carabao Cup final and followed it up with a 3-0 win over Southampton in the FA Cup. The Blues had their chances in the final, as did Saints, but the Reds emerged triumphant on both occasions and will now turn their attention to staying ahead of Man City in the title race.  For more about how the reds won the 2023-24 EFL Cup and the journey to get there read on.

Third Round – Liverpool 3 – 1 Leicester City

As one of the clubs playing in European competition, Liverpool got an automatic bye to the third round of the League Cup in the 2023-2024 season. Played on the 27th of September with a 7.45pm kick-off, the Reds were drawn at home against Championship opposition in Leicester City.

The Foxes were flying high in the second tier of English football at the time, though that didn’t stop their supporters from singing the usual mix of poverty chants and songs about footballing disasters. With the Anfield crowd suitably ready to see the Reds take Leicester to pieces, silence ensued when Kasey McAteer netted the opening goal after just three minutes.

The first-half ended that way, but it took the same number of minutes into the second-half for Cody Gakpo to find the equaliser. The Reds had gone relatively strong with their line-up, giving new players a chance to figure out their position in the side, with one of those new players giving us the leader after 70 minutes when Dominik Szoboszlai fired home with an absolute screamer.

Diogo Jota scored pretty much on the stroke of full-time in what was becoming customary for him against Leicester, securing Liverpool’s passage into the next round. It was the club’s seventh straight win in all competitions, with the Hungarian a crucial part in that.

Fourth Round – Bournemouth 1 – 2 Liverpool

It was an away trip to Bournemouth for Liverpool in the fourth round, with the weather at the time being horrendous enough to mean that the squad had to be driven home after the match rather than taking a flight. In the match itself, Cody Gakpo gave the Reds the lead after around half an hour of play, but the game itself had very little to recommend it.

The wind was swirling, the rain was falling and very few people seemed to be taking any real enjoyment out of it. Andoni Iraola’s men fancied their chances, however, and that feeling only increased when Justin Kluivert scored an equaliser for them after 64 minutes of play.

The atmosphere in Dean Court went up a notch, particularly when Darwin Núñez mis-controlled a pass to send him out to the left. It earned a sarcastic jeer from the Cherries’ fans, but their jeers soon turned to Liverpool cheers when Darwin shifted the ball onto his right foot on the edge of the area and fired a rocket past the out-stretched arm of Ionuț Radu in the Bournemouth goal.

That was just six minutes after Kluivert’s equaliser, putting Liverpool ahead once more. This time the Reds were able to hold on and secure our place in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup, later beating the Cherries at Dean Court in the Premier League.

Quarter-Final – Liverpool 5 – 1 West Ham United

With Liverpool’s schedule starting to really tighten thanks to progress in the Europa League and a genuine title charge being mounted in the Premier League, many thought that the quarter-final draw against an in-form West Ham would prove to be a game too far for Liverpool. Instead, the Reds ended up making mincemeat of the Londoners, putting five past them to secure a place in the semi-finals rather comfortably. It was that man Dominik Szoboszlai on the scoresheet again with the opener, coming after around half an hour of play. Curtis Jones made it 2-0 in the second-half before Cody Gakpo scored another to all but secure progression.

Jarrod Bowen, who many people thought would make an excellent addition to the Liverpool squad, made it slightly tricky when he got a goal back for the Hammers just six minutes later, but Mohamed Salah, who had only been on the pitch since the hour mark, made it 4-1. Curtis Jones then got his second of the game to ensure that the Reds who had remained until the 84th minute would go home very happy indeed.

With 12 corners to West Ham’s two and 11 shots on target from 29 shots overall against the Hammers’ one, it is fair to say that it was a dominant performance from Liverpool’s ‘B-Team’ that got a lot of people excited.

Semi-Final – Liverpool 3 – 2 Fulham (agg)

Liverpool were drawn to play Fulham in the semi-finals of the League Cup for the 2023-2024 season, which had many Evertonians taking to social media to thank one of their own players for missing a penalty in the shootout with the London club in the previous round, given that it meant that they didn’t end up facing the Reds over two legs.

If they had, they might well have received the same treatment that Fulham did, being summarily knocked out. Instead, 56,724 turned up to Anfield to watch Liverpool take on Fulham, knowing that the Londoners had caused us problems in the Premier League game at Anfield earlier in the season.

It looked as though history might be repeating when former Chelsea player Willian gave Fulham the lead after just 11 minutes. The Reds weren’t having that, however, and staged yet another of the club’s brilliant comebacks in the second-half. This time it was two goals in the space of three minutes to all but take the tie away from Fulham, with Curtis Jones scoring the first.

Cody Gakpo continued his trend of scoring in every round when he found the back of the net on the 71 minute mark. From there, the Reds saw out the win to ensure that we had something to protect when the second-leg took place at Craven Cottage.

Having seen Fulham score an early goal at Anfield, Luis Diaz returned the favour on the bank of the Thames to all but kill the tie after just 11 minutes of the second-leg. The change in atmosphere was evident, with pretty much everyone inside Craven Cottage knowing that it was the end of the road.

With Chelsea having come from 1-0 down to Middlesbrough in the first-leg of their tie to win 6-2 on aggregate in their tie, the two clubs knew who they’d be facing in the final. For Fulham, it would’ve been a London derby, whilst for Liverpool it was a chance to setup a repeat of two years earlier. In the end, the game petered out and the Reds won 3-2 on aggregate.

The Final – Liverpool 1 – 0 Chelsea (a.e.t.)

Manchester’s Chris Kavanagh was given the role of refereeing the game between Liverpool and Chelsea at Wembley for the final of the Carabao Cup. In the week leading up to the game, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited released a video on their social media of Kavanagh talking about how he’d been appointed as the ref for the game and what an honour it was.

To many supporters, it was further proof that modern day referees want to be in the spotlight more than they want to get decisions right, perhaps lining themselves up for future jobs at Sky Sports like Mike Riley and Mike Dean or as the referee on Gladiators like Mark Clattenburg.

Whatever the logic, it seemed entirely predictable that Kavanagh would go on to have a stinker during the actual final. So it proved, with Kavanagh missing two blatant yellow card tackles from Chelsea players in the opening stages of the game. It meant that the likes of Moises Caicedo, who was guilty of one of the poor tackles, felt as though he was able to jump into tackles however he fancied.

It was with this mindset that he crashed onto Ryan Gravenberch’s ankle just before the half hour mark, causing him a serious injury. Kavanagh, of course, missed it, whilst the Video Assistant Referee decided that it was reckless rather than dangerous.

Caicedo stayed on, therefore, whilst Gravenberch had to be replaced. Liverpool were already without Mohamed Salah, Darwin Núñez, Dominik Szoboszlai, Joël Matip, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones, Diogo Jota, Thiago Alcântara and Stefan Bajcetic due to numerous different injuries. So it was that Joe Gomez was asked to replace the Dutch international, with the defender playing in midfield.

It was further proof that Gomez was something of a replacement for James Milner in the Swiss Army knife role of covering all over the pitch. It was also just the start of the substitutions that the Reds would have to make during the game.

On the hour mark, the refereeing team once again inserted itself into the narrative of the match. The Reds thought that they’d taken the lead when Virgil van Dijk headed in Andy Robertson’s free-kick, but the Video Assistant Referee decided that Kavanagh should take a look at a block on a defending player by Wataru Endō.

In spite of that sort of thing happening all of the time at set-pieces and Manchester United scoring a similar goal a few days later that Mancunian Kavanagh would allow to stand, he decided to disallow the goal as being offside on account of the fact that Endō was in an offside position when carrying out the block.

Bobby Clark was the first of the particularly young players to make it onto the pitch, replacing fellow Academy player Conor Bradly after 72 minutes. With just three minutes of normal time remaining, a triple substitution for Liverpool saw Kostas Tsimikas, James McConnell and Jayden Danns replace Andrew Robertson, Alexis Mac Allister and Cody Gakpo respectively.

With both teams having hit the woodwork earlier in the game, there was little to separate them as normal time ran out and the referee blew the full-time whistle, meaning that extra-time and possibly penalties would once again be needed to decide a winner.

Unlike two years earlier, when neither side was able to score in either normal time or extra-time in both the League Cup and FA Cup finals, Liverpool were able to break the deadlock this time around. It was all but a replay of the goal that van Dijk had scored earlier in the match, this time without the offside block from a man in Red. It was a corner from Tsimikas that the Liverpool captain guided past Đorđe Petrović, giving the Reds a 1-0 lead with just two minutes of extra-time remaining.

It proved to be enough, giving Liverpool their tenth League Cup and van Dijk his first trophy as Liverpool captain, which he lifted jointly with Jürgen Klopp.

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