Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Fulham in the second leg of their semi-final at Craven Cottage on Wednesday night secured their place in the EFL Cup final.
After defeating Middlesbrough 6-2 on aggregate in the first leg at Anfield on January 10, Jurgen Klopp’s team narrowly prevailed in the English capital to set up an exciting final against Chelsea. The two teams will square off at Wembley on February 25.
In the semi-final, Luis Diaz gave Liverpool the lead in the 11th minute of play, and while Issa Diop pulled one back in the 77th, Marco Silva’s team was unable to produce another goal as Liverpool won 3-2 overall.
In the first two minutes, Diaz headed a free kick well short of the goal, giving Fulham early warning signals of danger. During a dismal start, the home team was simply unable to hang onto the ball.
In the sixth minute, Darwin Nunez was the next to try his luck. The attacker forced Fulham keeper Bernd Leno into a good save, and then Joao Palhinha, who was unmarked inside the box, had a great opportunity to volley over the crossbar from a dangerous corner.
Although Fulham was doing better, they suffered a severe setback in the eleventh minute when Diaz’s whipped attempt past Leno, who may have thought he should have kept it out, gave Liverpool a 3-1 overall lead in the round of sixteen match.
In the 28th minute, Diaz gave Liverpool another chance to score from close range after Nunez had hit the post, but the offside flag was raised.
In the 31st minute, Diaz again tested Leno with a shot, but Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher, in goal, produced a brilliant save at the opposite end to deny Raul Jimenez.
Following a solid spell for Fulham, which included a penalty claim when Jimenez went down inside the area, Kelleher was forced to deny a shot from Willian. However, Liverpool led 3-1 at halftime and had a 1-0 advantage for the night.
Early in the second half, Harvey Elliott gave Liverpool a half-chance; he crossed the ball and may have taken the shot himself, but Elliott missed it wide of the post.
After Kelleher mishandled Willian’s pass into the box, Andreas Pereira struck against the post, and Elliott then shot at Leno from the other end, giving both sides another opportunity in the 55th minute.
Just before the hour, Leno denied Nunez once more, and four minutes later, the Liverpool striker made a strong effort from inside the box that hit the crossbar but missed.
Diop successfully converted Harry Wilson’s cross to give Fulham the lead in the 77th minute. Wilson, who came in as a substitute, invigorated and refined the home team’s approach.
Wilson then put Kelleher to the test in the 80th minute, with the home team comfortably in control and just one goal needed to tie the game at 3-3. However, Fulham’s chances of winning were dashed, and Liverpool advanced to play Chelsea in the final at the end of the next month.
Now, both clubs will focus on the FA Cup’s fourth round, with Liverpool facing Norwich City on Sunday afternoon and Fulham hosting Newcastle United on Saturday night.