Chelsea lose second successive English cup final as Kepa clanger costs Blues

The world’s most expensive goalkeeper came on after 120 minutes for Chelsea – only to miss the decisive penalty in the first English final of the season

Chelsea suffered their second successive Wembley Stadium cup final anguish as Premier League rivals Liverpool claimed an all-action Carabao Cup triumph following a penalty shootout in which goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was the only player to miss one of the 22 spot kicks.

An almost flawless shootout ended in agony for the player who remains the most expensive goalkeeper in history since moving to Stamford Bridge for around $96 million in 2018 and had replaced Edouard Mendy in a curious substitution just before the shootout.

Kepa’s Liverpool counterpart, Caoimhin Kelleher, scored what turned out to be the winning penalty for his side.

Title contenders Liverpool suffered a blow from kick-off when playmaker Thiago was seen in tears on the bench after suffering a cruelly late injury that kept him from playing in the final.

🤯 What a shootout! Scenes in that @LFC end!#EFL | #CarabaoCupFinal pic.twitter.com/sr18lJF4VO

— Carabao Cup (@Carabao_Cup) February 27, 2022

🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

This is what it means! 😍#EFL | #CarabaoCupFinal | @LFC pic.twitter.com/CUi0WolknS

— Carabao Cup (@Carabao_Cup) February 27, 2022

The influential midfielder’s absence looked to have knocked his side out of shape during the opening minutes, when Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross from the right found Christian Pulisic free in front of goal, only for the USA livewire to shoot straight at Kelleher.

Liverpool took their time to turn a half in which they dominated the ball – enjoying almost 70% of possession – into chances. Sadio Mane went close just after the half-hour mark, being denied by a superb Edouard Mendy save at point-blank range after the Blues goalkeeper had been unable to keep hold of a Naby Keita strike.

Chelsea had the two best chances through Mason Mount, the England midfielder volleying wide from inside the penalty area and racing onto a Pulisic pass behind the Liverpool defense, beating Kelleher but not the inside of a post with his shot.

#LFC‘s Road To The Wembley 🏟️pic.twitter.com/0rWC2h9Ock

— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 27, 2022

How Chelsea reached the #CarabaoCupFinal 🔵🏟pic.twitter.com/O1SvlCcAKM

— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 27, 2022

Boss Thomas Tuchel sunk to his knees after one of those misses, and he replaced Mount and Pulisic with Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner after watching his side survive a major scare when Joel Matip’s header beyond Mendy was ruled out because Virgil van Dijk was offside.

The decision was repeated at the other end in a less contentious call when Kai Havertz headed in while Timo Werner was comfortably offside.

Van Dijk thought his header from a corner was creeping in at the far post until Mendy intervened, springing to his left to push the effort away with a strong arm in a typically heroic save that proved the closing drama of a thrilling 90 minutes that had somehow ended without a goal.

Joel Matip scores a disallowed goal for Liverpool © Marc Atkins / Getty Images


That came close to changing at the start of extra-time when the heavyweight substitutes combined for Chelsea.

Lukaku advanced down the left flank and found Werner ahead of him. The Germany forward sized up his options with Van Dijk in his way, then chipped a shot over the Netherlands defender and narrowly high of the far post.

In case anyone had not seen enough disallowed goals in normal time, Chelsea managed to produce two more during the final acts.

😱 So close for @ChelseaFC!#EFL | #CarabaoCupFinal pic.twitter.com/C5pbjWk0Mx

— Carabao Cup (@Carabao_Cup) February 27, 2022

An amazing double save from Mendy in the #CarabaoCupFinal 👏pic.twitter.com/TuiksVVzkD

— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 27, 2022

Trevoh Chalobah seized on a loose Liverpool ball on Chelsea’s right, charged forward and sent Lukaku away with a perceptive low pass. The $130 million striker delivered one of his hallmark goals, cutting inside and firing past Kelleher. An offside flag correctly thwarted him.

With 110 minutes on the clock, Lukaku then played in Havertz from the left, who was further offside than the Belgian had been when his low shot also evaded Kelleher.

After a match containing four chalked-off goals, three goalkeepers and as many penalties as there were players on the pitch at the start, Chelsea suffered the same fate as they did at England’s national stadium in their 1-0 loss to Leicester in the FA Cup final in May.

Tuchel has added two trophies to his club’s cabinet in just 13 months at Stamford Bridge, winning the Champions League and Club World Cup. The German coach’s wait for a domestic title in England, though, goes on.

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