Virgil Van Dijk
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It was truly an amazing night for J├╝rgen Klopp and his men as the Reds had the honours of lifting the Carabao Cup for a record 10th time, after a 1-0 (AET) victory over London giants, Chelsea.

Mauricio Pochettino, whose first game in charge of the blues had also been a 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, had hoped to win his first silverware since joining the club back in July 2023. However, his hopes were dampened when Virgil Van Dijk headed home a corner from Konstantinos Tsimikas to seal the win for the Merseyside team.    

The game had started on a bright and energetic note with both teams having their chances and forcing out great saves from either goalkeeper. Raheem Sterling had been the first to find the back of the net in the first half but his goal was ruled out for offside. Virgil Van Dijk also had his goal from a Liverpool set piece chalked off also for offside, leaving the game level and open for either team. 

Both sides had a couple of other scoring chances, with each team having attempts come off the upright. It was until after full time, in the 118th minute when everyone had thought that the game would head to penalties that Van Dijk broke the deadlock to put the game out of reach for the London team.

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The Liverpool captain’s calming presence at the back was crucial throughout and he had shown great composure, leadership and confidence, especially when Klopp had fielded youngsters due to the club’s increased injury list. Van Dijk, however, ended the night with his first trophy since being installed as captain and also picked up the Alan Hardaker Man Of The Match award.

Blue anguish is Red delight

This defeat for Chelsea means it’s their sixth consecutive loss in domestic cup finals and a third straight one to Liverpool having lost to them on penalties in the FA and EFL cups in 2022.

Klopp had earlier announced his departure from the club at the end of the season after winning every major trophy since his arrival in 2015, plans for a perfect goodbye with a quadruple are now well and truly alive. Liverpool are also first in the Premier League with 60 points and this Cup final could have a galvanizing effect on the Reds who are desperate to send their manager off on a high. 

The German, who in a post-match conference declared:

“There are longer careers than mine but in more than 20 years, [it’s] easily the most special trophy I ever won.

“It’s absolutely exceptional. Sometimes I get asked if I’m proud of this, proud of that, proud of that, and it’s really tricky. I wish I could feel pride more often, I just don’t do. Tonight there’s an overwhelming feeling, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on here?’ I was proud of everybody involved in everything here.”

“What happened here was absolutely insane,” Klopp added. “The team, a squad, an academy full of character. I am so proud I could be a part of that tonight.

How far this Liverpool team can go this season and whether or not they will have a fairy tale ending with Klopp in all competitions remains yet to be seen. They yet hold a slim advantage of two points between them and third-placed Arsenal, so the focus will be shifting to the next game for these mentality monsters. 

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