Fulham 1 - 1 Liverpool
Cottagers: Diop 77’
Reds: Diaz 11’
Jurgen Klopp sends out a changed, though still strong lineup, to try to book a spot in the League Cup Final. The Reds come in with a narrow 2-1 advantage, but Fulham will certainly try to make that lead as nervy as possible, if not overturn it completely, in front of a home crowd who haven’t seen a final since their Europa League defeat in 2010.
Although Quansah and Bradley have both impressed so far, and Kelleher is of course our cup and shootout hero, the home side will certainly feel like they can get at this youthful defense. Up top Nunez, Diaz, and Gakpo lead the line, and Elliott, Gravenberch, and MacAllister start in midfield. Klopp will also have plenty of firepower and experience to call on from the bench, including Andy Robertson who makes his return to the squad after a lengthy layoff.
Simon Hooper is in the center circle for this one, and I’m sure he won’t do anything to make me want to put on my tinfoil hat.
Liverpool start brightly and nearly get in on a couple of occasions, but the final ball or a bad touch stops the visitors from capitalizing. However, the ball finally falls to Luis Diaz in the box, and although he was helped by a slip and at least two favorable deflections, the Reds take the lead and get an insurance goal on aggregate!
After the goal, Liverpool have been happy to sit a bit deeper and try to play on the counter. It hasn’t been particularly successful, but equally Fulham have created next to nothing. In fact, shockingly little has happened since the opening goal, which is of course perfectly fine for Liverpool with their 2 goal cushion. The xG in the first half is 0.17 to 0.21, though the Reds have looked the far more dangerous side.
Fulham carve out their best chance of the match after Kelleher is just late coming off his line to attempt to punch a ball clear. The ball falls to Pereira at the back post, but his shot rattles off the post, which then sets Liverpool off on a dangerous counter.
With more than an hour gone, Klopp brings on Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota for MacAllister and Darwin Nunez. Both Darwin and Mac put in a shift today.
Oh shit. With about 15 minutes remaining Fulham pull one back, and the home side is suddenly on their feet. Hold onto your butts. The home side absolutely have their tails up following the equalizer, as they look to level things up in aggregate. Liverpool need to figure out a way to take the sting out of the game, lest they want to have another 30 minutes of football.
Klopp makes two more subs with 10 minutes remaining, bringing on Bobby Clark and Konate for Gravenberch and Gakpo. It looks like Liverpool have moved to a back 3. Interesting time to experiment, Kloppo.
Credit to Fulham for making us work in both legs. It was comfortable throughout most of the first half, but the equalizer made for a nervy last 15. But the Reds did enough to make yet another League Cup final. And against Chelsea. Joy.