Carabao Cup: Five talking points from Fulham 1-1 Liverpool

It was a special night for Liverpool on Wednesday as they booked their place in the Carabao Cup final with a 1-1 draw in their semi-final second leg against Fulham.

Luis Diaz’s first-half goal ultimately secured a 3-2 aggregate victory for the Reds, who stood firm despite Issa Diop’s late equaliser at Craven Cottage, setting up a Wembley date with Chelsea next month.

Here are five things we spotted from the contest in London…

Diaz breaks new ground

It took fewer than 11 minutes for Liverpool to hit the front here, with Diaz taking down Jarell Quansah’s superb diagonal pass and squeezing a shot inside Bernd Leno’s near post.

A big moment for the Colombian, who has now broken new ground in a red shirt.

Having scored six times in his first half-season at Anfield and five times in an injury-disrupted campaign last time, Diaz now has seven in all competitions so far this term.

Indeed, he is the only Reds player to have scored in each of the Premier League, Europa League, Emirates FA Cup and Carabao Cup in 2023-24.

And his goal here was priceless, sending his side to Wembley.

Youth wins the day

The Liverpool team selected here may have plenty of medals between them, but it was also a youthful one.

Indeed, with an average age of 24 years and 194 days, the starting XI selected by Jürgen Klopp was the youngest the Reds have fielded in a major semi-final since 2001.

Two Academy prospects shone in defence, with Quansah and Conor Bradley both delivering strong performances, while another, Caoimhin Kelleher, stood firm to deny Raul Jimenez and Harry Wilson as Fulham came on strong in the second half.

There was also another show of faith from Klopp in teenager Bobby Clark, who was introduced in the closing stages as the away team saw the game out.

The future at Anfield is bright, indeed.

Klopp is the semi-final king

Not quite a perfect 10, but not far off.

Ten times Klopp has led Liverpool in a major semi-final, and nine of those have seen the Reds progress, with the only blot on the copybook coming against Southampton in the League Cup back in 2017.

The Reds had to dig deep to win this one, fighting back to win the first leg at Anfield and then holding firm amid late Fulham pressure here.

But as the final whistle sounded, it was the men in red, and those in the away end, who were the ones celebrating.

And Liverpool are the League Cup kings

No club loves the League Cup quite like Liverpool, and they now have the chance to improve their superb record in the competition.

Next month’s final will be the 14th they have contested – a record for the tournament – and their third under Klopp.

The last challenge of their campaign in the competition this term will be to further bolster their unrivalled haul of nine successes and reach double figures.

2022 all over again

The comparisons with the 2021-22 season go on, and you can now add a League Cup final with Chelsea to them.

Two years ago, the Reds defeated the Blues on penalties at Wembley to secure the first trophy of the season, and they will get the chance to repeat the trick on February 25 after Mauricio Pochettino’s side saw off Championship outfit Middlesbrough in the other semi-final on Tuesday night.

It promises to be another special occasion under the arch – one Klopp and his team will hope has the same ending.

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