Chelsea travelled to Anfield on Tuesday night in hope of beating Liverpool to ensure a place in the Carabao Cup fourth round. After Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring, Emerson and Eden Hazard scored late to knock out Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Both managers fielded heavily weakened sides for the cup clash ahead of their second meeting of the week on Saturday. However, with the quality in both starting XIs, they could’ve been lining up for a top-flight game. It was the visitors who began the match with more intensity and they saw the better of the early chances. Willian, Ross Barkley and Andreas Christensen were just a few of the players to test Simon Mignolet within the opening 15 minutes.
Alvaro Morata continued his poor spell in front of goal as he failed to chip the Belgian stopper following Cesc Fabregas’ perfectly-weighted pass. Naby Keita then tried to deceive Kevin Friend into awarding him a penalty but the referee was right to wave away the protests and he wouldn’t have been wrong to book the midfielder.
Willy Caballero had to be alert to push Keita’s drilled effort around the post after the Guinean had broken through the middle of the park at pace. Chelsea’s second choice shot-stopper became the busier of the two keepers and he was required to keep out Sadio Mane’s powerful downward header. The first-half came to an end with the hosts on top following 25 minutes of domination from the visitors.
Hazard Steals the Show
Within 60 seconds of the restart, Sturridge was responsible for the miss of the season and arguably the worst in League Cup history. A dreadfully short backpass from Christensen was seized upon by the former Blue but after rounding Caballero, he somehow sent his off-balance shot wide of the gaping net.
Moments later, Willian managed to pick out Morata six yards from the Liverpool goal but the Spaniard couldn’t keep his header below the crossbar. Barkley’s lazy header was then pounced upon by Mane but he failed to score in a one-on-one situation with the Blues keeper knowing very little about the save.
After plenty of second-half pressure, Klopp’s side finally got their noses in front and it was Sturridge who made amends for his earlier miss. The ex-England international acrobatically got to the rebound of Keita’s shot and sent a bicycle kick flying into the unattended Chelsea net.
20 minutes came and went following the goal and the visitors didn’t look like equalising but they created an opening out of nothing. Eden Hazard whipped in a free-kick from the right-hand side and after Mignolet kept out Barkley’s header, Emerson Palmieri was on hand to poke in the rebound. The officials went through an extensive check of VAR with a hint of offside but the goal stood and the game looked destined for penalties.
Although, with a shootout looming, the contest exploded into life with both sides going hammer and tongs searching for a winner. Sturridge came within an inch of getting the third goal as his bending strike from 25 yards crashed onto the bar before his former team-mate stole the show.
Hazard picked the ball up 30 yards from goal before majestically dancing past three Red shirts and smashing an unstoppable strike beyond a helpless Mignolet to send the travelling fans into pandemonium. The World Cup star had come halfway through the second-half and always looked dangerous but no one would’ve expected a goal of such top quality when he replaced Willian
The Blues held out for what is Liverpool’s first defeat of the season and as mentioned, they face the same opponents on Saturday at Stamford Bridge in the 5:30 kick-off. Sarri will be confident of winning the Carabao Cup with Manchester United also being knocked out by Derby on Tuesday night.