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Men's Football Klopp’s kids do Reds proud with late League cup victory

LIVERPOOL won the EFL Cup final against Chelsea today thanks to a performance that will go down as one of the most memorable and significant of the Jurgen Klopp era.

A Liverpool team ravaged by injury, without the likes of Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, Darwin Nunez, Dominik Szoboszlai, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson and others, was made up of a mixture of senior players and some from the academy who many will not have heard of before this game.

The game was eventually won late in extra time as Virgil van Dijk, the captain and leader of this young group, headed in a Kostas Tsimikas corner.

The corner itself had been won by 19-year-old Bobby Clark, and by the end of the game, the Liverpool line up featured Clark, fellow 19-year-old James McConnell, Jayden Danns 18, and Jarrell Quansah, 21.

The 20-year-old right-back Conor Bradley also played a big role in the game.

While it was Van Dijk who headed the winner, at the other end Caoimhin Kelleher made a string of saves standing in for Alisson.

One was an outstanding close-range stop from Cole Palmer as Chelsea crashed the Liverpool box.

Raheem Sterling did manage to find the net for Chelsea, only for it to be called back for an earlier offside against Nicolas Jackson.

Given their long list of absentees, much of the responsibility in attack for Liverpool fell on Luis Diaz, who had several efforts saved by Djordje Petrovic.

Cody Gakpo played through the middle in place of Jota/Nunez and hit the post just before half-time from an Andy Robertson cross.

Liverpool had a goal similar to their eventual winner disallowed at the start of the second half.

What looked like a well-worked set-piece was called for an offside against Wataru Endo who was adjudged to have blocked off a defender to allow Van Dijk to find the net with a header.

Gallagher hit the post for Chelsea as both teams attacked the ends housing their own sets of fans in the second half.

The Chelsea attacking midfielder had another good chance in the final ten minutes, but Kelleher jumped out well to save and smother the situation.

Chelsea pelted shots at the Liverpool goal in one final flurry of normal time, but Kelleher stood firm again, sticking a leg out to stop a Palmer shot before the ball somehow ended up in his grasp moments later.

It’s a credit to Danns, McConnell and Clark that they found the rhythm of the game early and grew with confidence as the game went on.

Clark had enough confidence to drive at the Chelsea defence to win the corner, from which Van Dijk sent the already buzzing Liverpool end into raptures.

It was fitting that Klopp, in the year he will leave Liverpool, won this final with a team that appears future-proofed. It will be one of his most memorable and cherished trophy lifts.

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