Caoimhin Kelleher was the Liverpool hero as the Irishman scored the winning penalty to win the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley.
The match may have finished 0-0 after 120 minutes, but it was a high quality contest with chances aplenty on both sides and VAR decisions cancelling out goals.
Then it came down the penalty shoot-out and Cork's Kelleher scored the decisive kick, with his opposite number Kepa Arrizabalaga – sent on specifically for the shoot-out with two minutes of extra time remaining – blazing over as the spot-kicks finished 11-10 after 21 of 22 efforts were perfectly dispatched.
Kelleher had played in every Carabao Cup game bar one this season, and then only because first-choice Alisson Becker needed game time after Covid-19, and was the hero in the quarter-final penalty shoot-out against Leicester, so he earned his chance at Wembley and took it in style.
"It’s a mad one," said a beaming Kelleher. "I didn’t even think I had scored the winning penalty. I’d forgotten I’d got the winning one. All the lads were class, I was just happy to score.
"It was more hit and hope. I got close to a few but all the penalties were very high quality, thankfully we were able to win.
"I thought we had scored when we got the disallowed goal but they had a few disallowed so I think a draw was a fair result overall."
"The manager just said 'well done for scoring the winning penalty, there's a wall with all the goalkeepers on who have won cups so now you can go on that.'"
Liverpool's Caoimhin Kelleher celebrates with the trophy after winning the EFL Carabao Cup. Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley
This was absorbing contest as two of the Premier League’s top three sides went blow-for-blow over 120 minutes and it was third time lucky for Klopp, who had lost his last two Wembley appearances in the Champions League with Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool in the 2016 League Cup final, when they were beaten by Manchester City on penalties.
"Even in professional football there should be space for some sentiment," stated Klopp. "Caoimhin Kelleher is a young boy, plays in all the competition, what do I do? I am two things, a professional manager and a human being and the human being won. He deserves it.
"At the training centre we have a wall that all goalkeepers are on who won something and Caoimhin can go on it - that's how it should be - absolutely great.
"I am happy for the people to celebrate something like this. Chelsea are incredibly strong, we matched each other.
"That is the start, we are not silly. We need to have luck - we had luck, that could have been 5-5.
"I'm fine now but I would have been fine with 90 minutes and 1-0 to Liverpool and we go home. I am happy for the people in dark times to celebrate something like this.
"We have to work hard. We play on Wednesday again, which I cannot believe now. We will give it a try. It is a home game and it will be rocking because of tonight."
Liverpool have now extended their lead as the club with the most major trophies in English football, with this latest win giving them a 49th piece of silverware, four ahead of Manchester United in a total that does not include Community Shield wins.
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