Spotlight on the youngsters who helped carry Liverpool to Carabao Cup glory

By Sports Desk February 26, 2024

Liverpool beat Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday with a side containing a number of inexperienced youngsters due to a host of injuries to senior players. Here, the PA news agency looks at the fresh faces who took the chance to shine at Wembley.

Conor Bradley (starter)

A relatively familiar name among the group having been given an opportunity in the second half of the campaign in the absence of Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Northern Irish right-back, 20, who spent last season on loan at Bolton, has shown promise for his attacking and defensive qualities.

Bobby Clark (substitute)

Another to have been given a handful of opportunities in recent weeks, the 19-year-old is an attacking midfielder or forward. The son of former Newcastle midfielder Lee Clark, he joined the club from the Magpies in 2021 and signed a long-term contract last December.

James McConnell (substitute)

Also 19, the midfielder has featured a handful of times off the bench after making his debut against Toulouse in the Europa League in October. Joined Liverpool as an Under-15s player after catching the eye at Sunderland.

Jayden Danns (substitute)

An 18-year-old forward who only made his first-team debut as an 89th-minute substitute in the 4-1 win over Luton last Wednesday. Has been with the club since the age of eight and is the son of the much-travelled former Colchester, Crystal Palace and Bolton midfielder Neil Danns.

Jarell Quansah (substitute)

Warrington-born defender who has established himself in the first-team squad this season. The 21-year-old, who had a loan spell with Bristol Rovers last season, is a ball-playing centre-half who has come through the ranks at Liverpool after joining them at the age of five.

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    Jurgen Klopp was left to reflect on “a low point” for Liverpool after Atalanta inflicted one of the heaviest defeats of his reign in Thursday’s Europa League clash.

    Here, the PA news agency looks at how the Serie A side’s 3-0 romp compares to Klopp’s worst games with the club.

    Low point

    Gianluca Scamacca’s double and Mario Pasalic’s late strike gave Atalanta a 3-0 win in the first leg of their quarter-final, denting Klopp’s bid to add an eighth different trophy to his Anfield honours roll and end his reign with a showpiece final in Dublin.

    Only Manchester City and Aston Villa have ever enjoyed bigger winning margins against Klopp’s Liverpool, across his 483 games since taking charge in October 2015.

    City beat their perennial title rivals 5-0 on the way to the 2017-18 crown, Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane scoring twice apiece, and then 4-0 in a futile attempt to stop Klopp’s men romping to their Covid-delayed 2019-20 win.

    Villa beat a much-changed Liverpool side 5-0 in the Carabao Cup in December 2019 – a defence of Ki-Jana Hoever, Tony Gallacher, Sepp van den Berg and Morgan Boyes powerless to prevent Jonathan Kodjia scoring his only two goals of that season.

    More memorably, Ollie Watkins’ hat-trick and a Jack Grealish brace set up a 7-2 league triumph against Klopp’s defending champions in October 2020.

    Anfield nightmare

    The common thread between those four hammerings is that they all took place away from Anfield, meaning Gian Piero Gasperini’s side inflicted a record-equalling home defeat on Klopp with Liverpool.

    It is the 11th time his side have lost by three goals – a sixth 3-0, to go with four 4-1s and a 5-2 – but only the third at home.

    City triumphed 4-1 in 2021, Ilkay Gundogan scoring twice, while last season’s Champions League challenge was effectively ended by that 5-2 defeat in the first leg of their last-16 tie against Real Madrid. Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah gave Liverpool an early 2-0 lead but Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema scored twice apiece in Real’s emphatic comeback.

    City are also among the teams to inflict three-goal away defeats on Klopp’s side, a list that curiously includes Watford on two separate occasions along with Tottenham, Brighton and Wolves in the Premier League and Barcelona and Napoli in the Champions League.

    Liverpool’s heaviest ever home defeat is only 6-0, against Sunderland in the First Division in April 1930.

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    Villa will travel to France with a 2-1 advantage thanks to first-leg goals from Ollie Watkins and John McGinn gave the on-looking Prince of Wales something to cheer about.

    But Lille showed they are no pushovers and Bafode Diakite’s late header kept the tie alive after they had been repelled by an impressive performance from Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

    Villa must now go to northern France next week and finish the job if they are to make their first European semi-final since they won the European Cup in 1982.

    That will not be an easy task as the French football federation have postponed Lille’s Ligue 1 game this weekend to give them extra time to prepare and they have only been beaten once at home all season.

    Emery, who celebrated his 1,000th game as a manager, said: “Difficult match, we are ready to play another 90 minutes, we played the first 90 minutes, we didn’t control the game like we wanted and defensively we were doing more work than we prepared for because we wanted to control the game with our positioning.

    “With the respect we have got for them, they showed it.

    “The result is tight, but more or less it was a fine for both teams. Now another 90 minutes, enjoy playing in Europe, enjoy playing a quarter-final.

    “Be ready to play 90 minutes, even extra time, even a penalty shootout because now it is in this moment everything is difficult.”

    Lille boss Paulo Fonseca, who almost took over at Newcastle and Tottenham in the last few years, felt Watkins’ goal should have been disallowed for a foul by Morgan Rogers on Ismally.

    “I don’t understand what is going on, it was a foul on the first goal,” he said.

    “I understand it is difficult for the referee with VAR it is just incredible they miss these things. It’s not good what is going on in football, the referees must look at what is going on in the moment.

    “A lot of matches, it is not football, it is blocking like in basketball. The first goal was a clear foul, a clear block. Being physical is one thing, fouling is another.”

    However, after the way they created chances at Villa Park, Fonseca knows the tie is very much alive.

    “We created the opportunity to get a better result,” he added. “I’m satisfied with the courage of my players but at the end of the day, we’ve lost.

    “I know that it’s difficult match, they’ve got great players, a great coach and a lot of experience so they have certain advantages but I must continue to believe it’s possible.”

  • Jurgen Klopp says losing to Atalanta at Anfield a ‘low point’ for Liverpool Jurgen Klopp says losing to Atalanta at Anfield a ‘low point’ for Liverpool

    Jurgen Klopp called Thursday’s 3-0 home defeat to Atalanta a “low point” in Liverpool’s season as their Europa League hopes were left hanging by a thread.

    Liverpool looked flat throughout the quarter-final first leg and ended the night perhaps fortunate Atalanta had not taken one of the many late chances they had to add to a lead given to them by Gianluca Scamacca’s brace and a late Mario Pasalic goal.

    Harvey Elliott hit the post in the first half and Mo Salah had a goal ruled out for offside in the second, but Liverpool lacked the spark needed to beat a well-organised Atalanta side, who will be confident of finishing the job next Thursday in Bergamo.

    Before Klopp can think about that match, he must lift his players for Sunday’s visit of Crystal Palace in the tight battle at the top of the Premier League table.

    “It was a really bad game, oh my God,” Klopp said after Liverpool’s first home defeat in nearly 14 months.

    “We started well, really well and then didn’t continue. They broke, they scored and we just lost the plot a little bit. We were here and there in midfield, I didn’t recognise it.

    “It was really strange but in football terms it was tactical discipline. There was a big chance for Darwin (Nunez) and then it was unlucky with Harvey, but they scored and we kept playing into their hands.

    “We played a bad game and we we deserved to lose. We must feel that now but we have exactly this night to feel bad about it and then we have to build up for Palace.”

    Klopp made six changes to his side following Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United, but his bid to freshen up the side failed, and their chances of ending the German’s reign with a showpiece final in Dublin have taken a huge hit.

    “I believe it’s not the moment to talk about that,” Klopp said when asked if the tie was still alive. “I’m not in the mood to think about the game in a week’s time when we have another in between.

    “Definitely we have to try, we want to win the game but now is not the moment to have a big mouth. We have to play a really good game.

    “Where we are, this is probably a low point for us performance-wise so it should be possible to play a little bit better and we can play a lot better. But first and foremost it’s about Sunday now.”

    The final whistle brought huge celebrations for Atalanta and their travelling fans. Gian Piero Gasperini said he wanted to enjoy the moment, but warned the job is only half done.

    “Tonight was amazing,” he said through a translator. “I didn’t make any changes until 10 minutes to go and the only one change because it is hard to touch something about a team that held until the 90th minute in the best way.

    “Such a victory, it’s OK to celebrate but we all know we ill have to conquer everything in seven days’ time in Bergamo because Liverpool is a really strong team and they can score goals quickly.

    “We will have to play another very precise game in every aspect and repeat tonight’s game because everything remains to be played. But our advantage makes us hope for the best.”

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