Liverpool unexpectedly crashed out of the Carabao Cup in the Third Round after losing to Chelsea 1-2 at Anfield. It was the Reds’ first home loss since January.
They only have themselves to blame because they had plenty of chances to put this match to bed before a calamitous six-minute spell. The club with more League Cups than any other made an early exit for the second year in a row.
With an almost entirely new side starting, Liverpool struggled to find a foothold in the match and needed to weather a stronger start by Chelsea. Yet, as the first half progressed, the Reds grew into the match and ended much stronger before the interval.
From the start of the second half, Liverpool were far more aggressive in attack, creating a number of big chances but they were only able to score one of them. It left the contest dangerously in the balance and Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri opted to bring on Eden Hazard late. The Belgian all but single-handedly turned things around for the Blues, leading a come from behind victory before Saturday’s rematch in the Premier League.
Here are four findings from the match:
The equalizing goal was questionable on multiple fronts. First, Victor Moses lost a challenge, arriving late, but he conned the referee. While the assistant referee closest to the action flagged for a throw-in, referee Kevin Friend arrived to not only call a foul but he issued Naby Keita a yellow card.
On the ensuing free kick, Mignolet made the first stop from Ross Barkley’s header, only to push the ball into the path of Emerson who scored the rebound. However, VAR showed both players were clearly offside when the free kick was taken. Friend was unmoved and doubled down on the error that led to the levelling. Then, as momentum rolled the Blues way, Hazard took over and stole the show.
Shocker to Stunner
Daniel Sturridge put in another decent shift for the Reds as the starting striker. The former England international eventually gave Liverpool the lead. However, he has to be ruing his earlier miss after he rounded Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero and shockingly put his shot wide.
He put away his next chance with an absolutely beautiful acrobatic volley to break the game open. He even created another again for himself, hitting a shot off the crossbar. Of course, Sturridge is no Roberto Firmino but he still has plenty offer Liverpool.
This was the first time that all three of Liverpool’s summer signings got to start simultaneously. Considering that they were brought to the club to strengthen the depth and quality of the side, they each had decent performances, despite the result.
Xherdan Shaqiri was a creative force up front again, although he offers less defensive cover. Naby Keita showed flashes of his cleverness and quality. He forced Willy Caballero into two strong saves, the second one’s rebound led to Sturridge’s goal. In his full debut, Fabinho showed his enormous potential in the side, despite looking like he is still sorting his role and responsibility in the new system.
This was a completely different defensive unit from the one that led Liverpool’s winning their first seven matches. Still, this unit was not new or even unfamiliar. In fact, it was a selection of past starters. They all struggled in the first half with the possible exception of Simon Mignolet, who made two saves to deny Alvaro Morata a golden chance.
By the second half, the back five looked like they might be growing into the game until the arrival of Hazard. Neither fullback was receiving a lot of protection and both showed their lack of playing time. Despite Joel Matip getting a start last match, he and Dejan Lovren still do not quite look like a reliable pair. Ultimately, it was Alberto Moreno who failed to make the final stop as Hazard cruised through four defenders before rifling home the winner.