Liverpool didn't get the win at Fulham in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, settling for a 1-1 draw, but that is all they needed, advancing to face Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday, February 25th. Luis Díaz provided the goal in the 11th minute that saw the Reds advance 3-2 on aggregate.
Liverpool earned a set piece in the 2nd minute, but the chance went wide. Fulham followed with a corner in the 7th minute, but it was cleared to leave the match scoreless. Luis Díaz changed that in the 11th minute. He won the ball high up the pitch and finished from a tight angle after the ball took a defection off of the post and goalkeeper.
From that point, Liverpool dominated possession but a pair of promising attacks were short-circuited by offside calls. Darwin Núñez hit the post in the 27th minute and Díaz pounced on the rebound and put the ball in the back of the net, but he was whistled for offside.
Díaz's good game continued, forcing a save at the half-hour mark. For the rest of the half, the Cottagers began to settle into the game, forcing Caoimhin Kelleher to make a save. Liverpool answered with a corner, but it was cleared, leaving the score 1-0 at halftime.
Joe Gomez unleashed a shot from distance early in the second half, but the attempt was high and wide. Fulham hit the post in the 53rd minute and the ball deflected out, starting a Liverpool counterattack. The Reds could not cash in when they had numbers, as the score remained 1-0.
Núñez forced a save in the 58th minute, but the resulting corner was cleared. The match took on a more methodical pace over the next 10 minutes or so until Ryan Gravenberch fired a shot from the top of the box in the 70th minute that was just wide.
Former Liverpool man Harry Wilson stung his former team with a beautiful assist that Issa Diop steered home in the 76th minute to tie the match at 1-1. That goal energised the Cottagers and their supporters. As a result, the Reds had to engage in some desperate defending at times over the rest of the match. They did enough to see out the draw and advance to the Carabao Cup Finals for the second time in three seasons.
It's Chelsea… Again
Liverpool and Chelsea are no strangers to facing one another in a Carabao Cup Final. They have done so two of the last three seasons with the Reds lifting the trophy both times. The appearance also marks Livepool's 14th in an English League Final in club history. The Reds have won on nine of those occasions.
A Look At The Stats
As you might expect from a 1-1 draw, the stats were pretty even. Both teams had 5 shots on goal while Liverpool held a slight edge in possession (51 per cent) but they had fewer corner kicks (4-2) as Fulham put together a much stronger second half
A Word From The Captain
Virgil van Dijk spoke with Sky Sports following the match.
“It feels a bit familiar (A Liverpool-Chelsea Final),” he said. “Fulham played at home and brought a great atmosphere. We had to be ready to fight and we started the game very well and had chances to double or even triple the lead and could not do it. But in the end, we find a way and get to Wembley.”
LFC Globe Verdict
It wasn't a win, but the Reds did just enough to advance and that's all that matters. I wondered where the scoring was going to come from and Luis Díaz provided the answer. His goal may have been a bit lucky as the goalie mishandled the ball, but when you put the ball on frame you never know what will happen.
Man Of The Match
Luiz Díaz. Not only did he score the decisive goal that sent Liverpool through, he had a second taken off the board due to offsides. He was a general menace for the Fulham defense all night long.
- Issa Diop 76'
- Luis Díaz 11'
- Harry Wilson for Bobby De Cordova-Reid 67'
- Harrison Reed for Tom Cairney 83'
- Rodrigo Muniz for Andreas Pereira 83'
- Kenny Tete for Timothy Castagne 83'