LIVERPOOL 1-1 MANCHESTER CITY
Sorry, Reds fans. Liverpool have come away from Wembley without a trophy.
I am going to have to be honest about what happened, you might say “brutally honest” but I need to make simple statements of fact, I’m not trying to criticise randomly or due to disappointment at failure. I support my club, even when we draw or lose. I have done for many years, with inspiration from Bill Shankly for doing so.
Liverpool were nothing like when we defeated our opponents 4-1 earlier in the season. We did not dominate the game with goals, in fact we struggled to find a single equalizer which was necessary to make it to extra time and then penalties, later on.
Liverpool needed more goals in this game. What should have been done is an attempt at repeating the 4-1 victory we’d had previously. Scoring 2, 3 or 4 goals would surely have secured victory for Liverpool within the first 90 minutes of the game. The single goal which was only an equalizer for Man City’s single goal that had already been scored was just not enough to bring us the League Cup. Scoring more than once was necessary for a Cup Final, especially against a team like Manchester City who are known for having quite prolific goalscorers, bought with the many millions of pounds their club owners have to invest.
Liverpool did not concede against Manchester City until early in the second half. We had a first half that saw no goals scored against us and it should have lasted until the final whistle, really. The goal City scored was a bit of a mistake from Simon Mignolet, when a shot in the 49th minute from Fernandinho came in from the right hand side and should have been saved but was not – it went straight towards but also under Mignolet and into the net. Though I do not wish to point fingers directly at him or claim that losing this final was all his fault. That’s simply not true. He was even brave enough to face the players that took the penalties in the shoot out. That takes more courage than stepping up to take a single penalty. I have respect for Liverpool’s goalkeeper and that won’t change.
Liverpool’s goal came much later in the second half. It was getting closer and closer to the 90 minute mark and as we passed the 80th minute, we simply knew we had to score or we’d lose the Final by the time the referee blew for full time. So, in the 83rd minute Coutinho had managed to strike a right footed shot into the net from quite close range after a bit of a scramble around the penalty area, with City defenders attempting to make a clearance on a couple of occasions but failing to do so. After a couple of shots saved in quick succession, their goalkeeper was down on the ground for enough time to give Liverpool a scoring opportunity and Coutinho was in the right place to put the ball past him. It was just what we needed to keep on going, past the 90th minute and into extra time. Without Coutinho’s goal, Liverpool would have lost this game by full time (of the regular second half). I want to award him “Man Of the Match”, despite the fact we ended up losing on penalties after extra time and Coutinho had a penalty saved.
Speaking of which, the penalty shoot out was nothing I feared during watching the match. At the earliest moments of extra time even, I actually wanted us to go beyond that half hour of play and into the shoot out because Liverpool had previously won 5 of 5 Cup Final penalty shoot outs. The confidence in our players to win this way was very high. Nobody could have predicted that Willy Caballero – not even Man City’s “first choice” goalkeeper (Joe Hart is the regular goalkeeper for City) – would have had a spectacular penalty shoot out performance and save at least 3 of Liverpool’s penalties. That kind of thing is rather unpredictable and involves luck.
I’ll give you a run down of how the shoot out went, penalty by penalty. [NOTE: scoreline will reflect penalties scored only, not the first two goals scored before extra time… starts at Liverpool 0-0 Man City]
Emre Can would be the brave guy who had to step up first and take a penalty in the League Cup Final. Not easy, with so much pressure and many people in Wembley Stadium and also around the world watching you. However, he would confidently put a powerful right footed shot right down the middle of the goal as the goalkeeper dived in another direction, to score first. Liverpool 1 – 0 Man City
Fernandinho would be Man City’s first penalty taker. He’d look rather confident but his right footed shot hit the left goalpost and he did not score. Liverpool 1-0 Man City
Lucas Leiva would be next to take a penalty for Liverpool. He’s scored penalties before and I had confidence in him to do so again. He took one rather like his previous penalties, a right footed shot to the right of the goal. This time though, Willy Caballero would dive and save Lucas’ shot at the right hand side of the goal. Liverpool 1-0 Man City
Man City’s second penalty taker would be Jesus Navas, who’d step up to make himself City’s first goalscorer of the shootout as he shot with his right foot to the bottom left corner of the net. Tension is building as City have equalised now. Liverpool 1-1 Man City
Liverpool’s next penalty taker would be Coutinho. He’d scored in regular time (the 83rd minute) and I thought he had what it took to score a penalty now. I was wrong, but only because Caballero would correctly guess the direction of Coutinho’s shot (which was down the center of the goal) and save the penalty. Liverpool 1-1 Man City
City have a chance to take a lead in the penalty shoot out for the first time now and would do so as Sergio Aguero would strike a right footed shot into the bottom right corner of the net, past Simon Mignolet. Liverpool 1-2 Man City
Liverpool need to equalise if they are to keep going and still possibly win. However Adam Lallana’s right footed shot was saved by Willy Caballero in the bottom left corner of the goal. Liverpool 1-2 Man City
If City score a third goal, it will be impossible for Liverpool to get a third after having missed (or been denied by Cabellero) the opportunity to score a few times already. City will win the shootout with their next penalty scored. As it happens, Yaya Toure stepped up to take it and Kolo Toure’s brother struck a right footed shot into the bottom left corner of the net to make it Liverpool 1-3 Man City. City win the League Cup Final on penalties. Liverpool and our fans have never experienced losing any Cup Final on penalties before. This is a first.
This was supposed to be a moment of glory for our club. A stepping stone for Jürgen Klopp to go from one great achievement to the next. But apparently, he has yet to achieve his first “great” thing at the club, with this unfortunate defeat. We can only hope that Liverpool’s progression in the Europa League ends with victory in that Final because if Klopp fails to win any trophy at all (like Brendan Rodgers), his position as Liverpool manager will seriously be at risk. He has put his own job at risk with this disappointing defeat and should avoid doing such things again, as multiple failures ultimately leads to being removed from your position and being replaced. Being a football manager is a very complicated job, for sure. It involves far more than just picking a squad of players for fixtures to be played. You’re supposed to also motivate your squad to success, provide the words they need to hear in order to believe in themselves and achieve great things like winning Cup Finals. Fans do this too, but it’s best for managers to be involved in it directly. A team with no motivation will win little to nothing. I still believe in Klopp and that he can motivate his squad to success in other competitions this season and to do so in everything we’re involved in for future seasons that are to come.
The final result of this fixture was unexpected, a complete surprise especially to Liverpool fans who’ve seen us win Cup Finals on penalties before. I’ve said “anything can happen in football” before and it certainly applied to this League Cup Final. If you don’t want to end up as a “runner up” instead of a winner, you’d have to had made sure you did enough to win the penalty shoot out that was almost inevitable in a game like this, with both sides seeming so equal in strength during the first 90 minutes and extra time. It didn’t happen for Liverpool but we move on now and try not to let this disappointment drag us down or affect future performances negatively. We look to the future with hope for achieving success in other areas for the club. We’re still a part of the knockout stages of the Europa League. We have Manchester United to play next in that competition and it will be a very exciting fixture, fans who have seen full seasons of Premier League action before already know that the two local rivals just love to play each other and it’s always entertaining. It’s time to focus on games like these. There’s still important things to do in our season, which is not over yet.
Walk on with hope in your hearts, Anfield Family. You’ll Never Walk Alone.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.