Mauricio Pochettino believes Chelsea are “awake” after recent results that have altered the course of their season ahead of Sunday’s Carabao Cup final.

The meeting with Liverpool at Wembley will be the club’s first final since co-owner Todd Boehly took charge and embarked on a radical overhaul that has so far not brought success.

It comes after wins away at Aston Villa in the FA Cup and Crystal Palace in the Premier League, which were followed by a fine draw against champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium a week ago.

Those three performances have significantly changed the perception of Pochettino’s rebuilding of the team, after the last home game – a 4-2 defeat to Wolves at Stamford Bridge early in February – saw Chelsea booed off the pitch by sections of their own support.

Days earlier they were soundly beaten 4-1 at Anfield by Sunday’s opponents, a disjointed performance in which the team looked to be in disarray and well short of expectations set by the more than £1billion spent by Boehly on recruitment.

Now the the Argentinian is confident that the last three weeks have brought a significant change in his players’ ability to compete at Wembley with title-chasing Liverpool.

“We will need to manage some moments during the game,” he said. “But I think in the last few weeks we’ve learned a lot, we’ve stepped up from (the defeat at Anfield). We arrive with very good momentum.

“After competing against Villa, Palace and Manchester City, it’s provided the team with the confidence and the trust.

“The team is awake to the competition. There was a click to change in the way we compete, that we were missing in the first half of the season.

“The circumstances are completely different (now), for us and for (Liverpool).”

Since the game at Anfield, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has lost a number of key players to injury including Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson Becker, Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones.

Pochettino has selection worries of his own, with Thiago Silva to be assessed having missed the last three games.

Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez is available after injury but Djordje Petrovic, who has impressed since coming into the side early in December, could keep his place.

Klopp has stated he believes his team are not favourites at Wembley, an idea the Chelsea manager rejects.

“(Klopp) is clever enough,” said Pochettino. “He knows that when you play a final, anything can happen. If they’re not the favourite, then we are not the favourite.

“For me Liverpool is the favourite. After eight years they have the experience to compete like a team, and be involved in different finals.

“For our players, it’s new. For some of them it’s maybe their first final. That’s why they are favourites, in my opinion. But he is clever enough to say it’s 50-50.”

Pochettino added that his team may ultimately be stronger for their chastening night on Merseyside in January.

“In this type of process, you need that these type of things happen,” he said. “You need to really wake up about the situation.

“The team needs to learn from the good and the not-so-good experiences. It was positive.

“After Liverpool, that result was completely unfair. But maybe that was good for us, to feel the pain, the negative situation, to be stronger now, and to find the way to compete better.”

Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders believes it is impossible to replace Jurgen Klopp and the club should not try to find a replica but someone who can develop their own dynasty.

Klopp’s shock decision to step down at the end of the season began an unenviable task for owners Fenway Sports Group of finding a successor for a manager who has won every club honour – bar the Europa League – during his time at Anfield.

The German has the chance to add to his tally of trophies this weekend in the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea on Sunday and the finale to the season could see them contend for another three in what would be a remarkable send-off.

But Lijnders, who with the rest of Klopp’s backroom staff is also leaving, insisted there was no point in trying to find someone who would be a clone of the 56-year-old, with former Reds midfielder Xabi Alonso currently the leading candidate.

“No one can replace Jurgen Klopp. But I think the past showed already a few difficult transitions,” said the Dutchman.

“What was the most difficult transition inside this club was (Bill) Shankly saying ‘That’s me’. (Bob) Paisley stepped up and was completely different from Shanks.

“It shows, as a club, we have to search for someone who wants to grow, who has the mindset to develop.

“I think we did the right thing by announcing early so the club has real time to make this transition smooth but the past has already shown that it is really impossible.

“The (Pep) Guardiola team of Barca, he says out of nothing ‘That’s me’ and then Tito (Vilanova) took over and has the highest win ratio ever – that was probably the most difficult transition in the last 15 years.

“What I’m trying to say is they don’t have to replace Jurgen, they have to find a good, good manager because nobody will replace Jurgen.”

There was a concern that Klopp’s announcement could possibly derail a team which leads the Premier League, faces Southampton in the FA Cup next week and is favourite for the Europa League, having been drawn against Sparta Prague in the last 16.

However, that has not been the case with five victories and just one defeat since the news broke and Lijnders said that was down to the mentality within the dressing room.

“I think you underestimate our squad, the personalities in it,” he added.

“They have been through a lot already, in recent history but also how they grew up; a lot of these boys had to show character from a young age – not everything went easy for them.

“A lot of us get a lot of criticism but we grow with this, it only feeds us. All these boys know how to deal with it.

“A lot of these boys didn’t win anything with Liverpool yet so of course they give everything despite the manager saying he is leaving.

“We are stable enough to deal with it. That’s what I thought before – but you never know. It is in the back of your mind but I, we, trust the squad enough that they can deal with that.

“We never make it more complicated than it is and I like that. It is the next game, that’s our final – and it is a final so let’s give everything on this planet to win this one and give joy and emotion to the fans.”

Liverpool will make a late decision on the fitness of forwards Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez, who both missed the midweek win over Luton, and midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, who has not played since the league win over Chelsea at the end of January.

Liverpool midfielder Wataru Endo believes victory in the Carabao Cup final will provide the extra energy required to maintain their challenge on three other fronts.

Sunday’s meeting is a repeat of the Reds’ 2022 encounter with Chelsea at Wembley which Jurgen Klopp’s side eventually won 11-10 on penalties with only one player – goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga – missing.

However, only four of that Liverpool starting XI are likely to be in this weekend’s team – Mohamed Salah would be a fifth but is currently doubtful with a minor issue after making his comeback from a hamstring problem at Brentford – as a result of some high-profile departures and a raft of injuries.

The extent of the injury crisis was laid bare in Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Luton, in which Klopp named a bench with three defenders and four academy players, and should that situation continue it could seriously hamper Liverpool’s bid to contend in the Premier League – which they lead – the FA Cup and Europa League.

But Endo said nothing gives players a boost like winning a trophy and for a large number of the Reds’ team – the Japan international included – Sunday will be their first chance at the club.

“If we could win this first one I think it would have a really positive impact on the other competitions we’re competing in,” said the £16million summer signing.

“Winning at Wembley would give us extra energy for the challenges ahead. I’m so excited to play there. It will be my first time at such a special stadium.

“It would mean a lot to me. It would be my first title with Liverpool and I’m focused on doing everything I can to help the team win the final.

“The manager has spoken to us about staying positive and needing to show that we are Liverpool. We did that against Luton.

“We don’t think too much about injured players, we just focus on the next game in front of us.”

Sunday is the first significant milestone in Klopp’s long goodbye after he announced his decision to leave at the end of the season.

Endo was away at the Asian Cup when the news broke but the 31-year-old, who has proved his critics wrong after being viewed as an emergency stop-gap holding midfielder, is keen to repay the manager’s faith.

“I was sad to hear about that. I really enjoy playing for him and playing football the way he plays,” he said.

“It’s disappointing but I really want us to achieve titles for him before he goes.

“I’ve only played for Jurgen for one season. Others have been here a lot longer so maybe they have more emotion but he has helped me so much.”

 

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After a tough introduction to English football the former Stuttgart midfielder has cemented his place as the team’s anchor, fulfilling a role which Alexis Mac Allister had been asked to do after Fabinho departed to Saudi Arabia in the summer.

 

“It’s hard to play for Liverpool. There’s always a lot of pressure,” Endo added.

“Playing in the Premier League is tough but this is something I wanted for a long time and I try to make sure I enjoy it and do my best every time.

“I feel like I’ve developed over the course of the season and that has helped to give me confidence.”

Chelsea and Liverpool will meet once again in the Carabao Cup final on February 25.

The Wembley clash will be the third final between the clubs in the tournament’s history.

Liverpool are the competition’s most successful team with nine victories while Chelsea who have lifted the trophy five times.

Here, PA news agency takes a look at their previous two finals.

2005: Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool aet – Millennium Stadium

Chelsea lifted their first silverware under Jose Mourinho at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, which hosted English cup finals between 2001 to 2006 while the new Wembley was being built. Liverpool opened the scoring inside the first minute of the game after John Arne Riise volleyed home a cross from Fernando Morientes.

The game stayed 1-0 until Steven Gerrard’s attempted headed clearance went into the back of his own net.

Goals from Didier Drogba and Mateja Kezman gave Chelsea a 3-1 lead in extra-time and they held on despite Antonio Nunez quickly pulling one back.

2022: Chelsea 0-0 Liverpool (Liverpool win 11-10 on pens) – Wembley

Liverpool were chasing a quadruple and ticked off the first trophy after a marathon penalty shootout at Wembley. The game remained goalless for 120 minutes but Liverpool prevailed 11-10 on spot-kicks after Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga missed his penalty.

The two sides would meet again later in the season in the FA Cup final. This was the first time that the same teams met in both the League Cup final and the FA Cup final of the same season since Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday in 1993.

That game also remained 0-0 after extra-time and Liverpool won on penalties again when Kostas Tsimikas scored his penalty after Mason Mount had his saved by Allison Becker.

But Jurgen Klopp’s side fell short in their pursuit of both the Premier League and Champions League trophies as their quadruple hopes were dashed.

Chelsea have the chance to apply balm to a tumultuous spell in their recent history when they face Liverpool in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final.

With there seeming little hope of achieving a European place via their Premier League form, the meeting with the Reds takes on added importance for Mauricio Pochettino’s young side.

Here the PA news agency looks at their route to Wembley.

Second round – Chelsea 2-1 AFC Wimbledon

Entering a round earlier than they are used to on account of having no European football, Pochettino’s side faced a shock when their League Two opponents took the lead via James Tilley’s first-half penalty, awarded after goalkeeper Robert Sanchez had flown from his goal with a reckless punch at a free-kick. Chelsea replied with a spot-kick of their own converted by Noni Madueke in stoppage time before the break. In the second half, Enzo Fernandez took advantage of an error from Alex Bass in the visitors’ goal to score for the first time since his £105million move from Benfica, sparing his side’s blushes.

Third round – Chelsea 1-0 Brighton

The Blues had lost at home to Brighton in the final weeks of the 2022/23 season, but with Roberto De Zerbi’s side juggling Premier League commitments with a first European campaign, Chelsea came out on top to progress to round four thanks to Nicolas Jackson’s goal early in the second half. The game was notable for a full debut for summer signing from Manchester City, Cole Palmer, the 21-year-old setting up the winning goal. He goes into Sunday’s final as the club’s top scorer with 12 in all competitions.

Fourth round – Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn

Benoit Badiashile marked his first appearance of the season after injury by scoring his second Chelsea goal, as Blackburn were dispatched at Stamford Bridge. The defender pounced on an error from Rovers goalkeeper Leopold Wahlstedt who failed to deal with Palmer’s corner, tapping home from close range. Raheem Sterling scored in the second half, set up again by the increasingly influential Palmer, to put his team into the last eight.

Quarter-final – Chelsea 1-1 Newcastle (Chelsea win 4-2 on penalties)

Chelsea looked to be heading out when Callum Wilson took advantage of chaos in their defence to put Newcastle a goal up in the first half, as indifferent Premier League form looked to have caught up with the team’s cup progress. That’s the way it stayed until stoppage time, when Kieran Trippier hesitated in dealing with a cross and Mykhailo Mudryk stole in to rescue his side. A penalty shoot-out followed, with Trippier the villain again for the visitors before goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic saved from Matt Ritchie to send Chelsea through.

Semi-final – Middlesbrough 1-0 Chelsea / Chelsea 6-1 Middlesbrough (6-2 on aggregate)

A calamitous first leg at the Riverside Stadium saw Pochettino’s team return south embarrassed after missing a host of chances against the Championship outfit, with Palmer the principal culprit. Hayden Hackney’s goal was the difference to leave boss Michael Carrick and his players dreaming of Wembley. Those aspirations were extinguished by half-time in the return leg in west London, with Chelsea 4-0 up by the break en route to a 6-1 win that ensured it would be they and not Boro that face Liverpool on Sunday.

Familiarity, so the saying goes, breeds contempt, but for Liverpool and Chelsea it has resulted in a war of attrition.

The two teams have met 17 times since September 2018 and, on the three occasions those have been finals, each one has gone to penalties, with Liverpool victorious in all three.

And, while Sunday’s reunion at Wembley is a repeat of the 2022 Carabao Cup final, which had an epic shoot-out settled by Reds goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher scoring his side’s 11th attempt and Kepa Arrizabalaga missing his, there are few similarities with that afternoon.

Injuries and key departures mean Liverpool, the record nine-time winners, will be able to field just five of the starting XI from that day; Chelsea can put out just two after a huge churn of players during a billion-pound spending spree in the interim.

The final represents the first moment of significance in Jurgen Klopp’s long goodbye after his decision to step down at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Chelsea have burned through three managers in Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter and Frank Lampard before giving Mauricio Pochettino the chance to arrest their gradual decline.

And it has been a decline.

When the pair met two years ago Liverpool were second in the Premier League table, chasing Manchester City in a brilliant title race which they lost by a point despite racking up 92 of them, while Chelsea were third, albeit 10 points behind.

But, despite their recent upturn in form, this time the Stamford Bridge side are 22 points adrift of the table-topping Reds in 10th.

Liverpool, competing on four fronts, are favourites, having lost just twice to domestic opponents, and, last month’s blip at Arsenal aside, Klopp has restored his squad’s competitiveness, even if they are not quite hitting the heights of that 2021/22 season.

However, injuries have hit at the wrong time, with influential players like full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, forward Diogo Jota, midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai and goalkeeper Alisson Becker already ruled out of the showpiece.

That may be just the opening Chelsea need after they were ripped apart 4-1 at Anfield barely a month ago.

There followed a 4-2 home defeat to Wolves four days later, after which they became one of the few teams to win at Villa Park while earning a creditable draw at Manchester City last weekend.

They appear to have played themselves into some form and Pochettino will look to build on that as he seeks to redress the balance against Klopp, against whom he has won just once in 12 meetings, and gain a small measure of revenge for the Champions League final defeat in Madrid in 2019 as Tottenham manager.

The Argentinian is desperate to end his trophy drought with English clubs in his seventh season in the country and silence some of the critics who are just starting to question his credentials again, having failed to spark a revival at Stamford Bridge, despite the massive investment in the playing squad.

That January Anfield defeat ended a run of seven successive draws between the two sides and, with all factors considered, that points to another close Wembley encounter – and possibly penalties yet again.

There will be no shortage of sub-plots when Chelsea take on Liverpool for the first silverware of the season in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.

Each coming off tumultuous campaigns last season, fortunes this season have diverged with one challenging on all fronts whilst the other labours to rediscover former glories.

The PA news agency looks at the talking points.

Liverpool’s injury list

It was confirmed on Tuesday that Diogo Jota and Alisson would be out for significant periods while Curtis Jones also joins Trent Alexander-Arnold, Thiago Alcantara and Joel Matip on the absent list for Sunday.

There is no guarantee that Darwin Nunez, who like Jones and Jota was withdrawn in Saturday’s win over Brentford, or Dominik Szoboszlai will be fit as Jurgen Klopp’s squad risks being stretched thin on the run-in, beginning with Sunday’s final.

Chelsea’s young team coming of age

Mauricio Pochettino has talked about the importance of success in the Carabao Cup for the development of his players, who with an average age of just over 23 comprise the youngest squad in the Premier League.

After the semi-final win over Middlesbrough he stated Sunday’s final means more to Chelsea’s current crop than the club’s trophy-laden history would suggest, and that victory at Wembley could accelerate their development. Fresh from an encouraging performance in drawing with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, lifting the cup on Sunday could be a watershed moment.

Salah back and in form

Klopp was without Mohamed Salah for almost seven weeks prior to his return to the team as a first-half substitute against Brentford, but his performance at the Gtech Stadium saw him hit the ground running.

An excellent assist for Alexis Mac Allister’s goal that made it 2-0 was followed minutes later by a fine finish of his own to show his manager it is not all bad news on the selection front. It will be a tonic to Klopp’s injury concerns if the Egyptian can help his team and himself to an eighth trophy of his Liverpool career on Sunday.

Chelsea’s best hope of Europe

With a top-six league finish looking out of reach it seems increasingly likely that cup success is Pochettino’s best hope of marking his first season by leading the club back into Europe after a year away.

They still have the FA Cup to play for, with a fifth-round meeting at home to Championship high-fliers Leeds next week, but a win at Wembley on Sunday will ensure at least a place in the Europa Conference League. It may not be a return to the Champions League, a competition the team won was recently as 2021, but it would be progress after a turbulent 18 months on and off the pitch.

Liverpool head to their second Carabao Cup final in three seasons this weekend looking to extend their own competition record of nine victories.

Here, the PA news agency details how they got there.

Fourth round: v Leicester (h) 3-1, September 27

Dominik Szoboszlai’s brilliant strike from the edge of the penalty area was the highlight of a second-half comeback after falling behind to Kasey McAteer’s third-minute goal. Cody Gakpo’s shot on the turn levelled things up just after the break, Szoboszlai smashed home and Diogo Jota’s cheeky backheel clinched victory.

Fifth round: v Bournemouth (a) 2-1, November 1

Darwin Nunez’s goal was worthy of winning any cup tie on a filthy night on the south coast. Gakpo opened the scoring with a scruffy close-range finish only for Justin Kluivert’s far-post header to level things up just past the hour. Nunez’s poor first touch was jeered by home fans but he made them pay by cutting in from the left touchline to whip a vicious shot over Andrei Radu.

Quarter-finals: v West Ham (h) 5-1, December 20

Gakpo made it three in as many cup ties but Curtis Jones was the real star with two goals. Szoboszlai opened the scoring with another long-range strike and Mohamed Salah scored a trademark breakaway before Jones’ driving run completed the scoring. Jarrod Bowen’s curling effort had briefly made it 3-1.

Semi-finals, first leg v Fulham (h) 2-1, January 10

Gakpo’s winner was his fourth successive goalscoring appearance in the competition and his tidy near-post effort gave Liverpool an advantage to take to Craven Cottage. Jones’ deflected shot from the edge of the area in the second half cancelled out Willian’s opener and Gakpo swept home in the 71st minute to turn things around.

Semi-finals, second leg v Fulham (a) 1-1, January 24

Luis Diaz’s early deflected shot beat Bernd Leno at his near post and set Jurgen Klopp’s side on their way to Wembley. Issa Diop’s quick improvisation diverted home a cross with his thigh but they could not make further inroads.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been quick to play down early talk of another quadruple bid after booking their place in the Carabao Cup final.

The Reds were chasing four trophies two years ago when they beat Chelsea – who they will again face in next month’s final – at Wembley.

In that season Klopp’s side played every match they were eligible for but finished with only a domestic cup double after being pipped to the Premier League title on the last day by Manchester City and losing to Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

This time around they again have their sights on a four-trophy haul, sitting top of the Premier League having reached the last 16 of the Europa League and face Championship opponents Norwich in the FA Cup on Sunday.

“I didn’t think about it to be honest because we are far off having ‘four finals’,” said Klopp, less than 24 hours after their 3-2 semi-final aggregate win over Fulham.

“We have qualified for one. It makes no sense to plan the next one before you have played the first one.

“The competitions are not made so that someone wins all of them. It’s just the number of games. I saw that the final is on February 25 and if we win on Sunday then the next round of the FA Cup will be three days later.

“It’s very unlikely we reach all three finals, it’s just the nature of it.”

The disquiet continues over the decision for Mohamed Salah to leave Egypt’s Africa Cup of Nations base in Ivory Coast to return to Merseyside for treatment on a hamstring injury.

Egypt’s doctor Mohamed Abou El-Ela reportedly told African media Salah did not want to come back and claimed Klopp revealing he would be leaving before the national team had chance to announce it had caused problems.

While Klopp apologised if he spoke out of turn he stressed both parties wanted the best for their prized asset.

“Most people in Egypt understand the situation because we have exactly the same target as Egypt – make Mo fit as quick as possible,” he added.

“That’s all we want and that’s how it always is. If a player is injured we try everything to help him to get fit as quick as possible.

“All parties agreed that it makes sense he is doing rehab here. We have a season to play so we want him fit but if he is fit earlier then as long as Egypt is still in the tournament he will go back, that is clear. Then it’s a win-win.

“If I said something too early – I knew there were discussions that he might come home but I didn’t know if that was already sorted – and then someone tells me ‘How can you say that?’ then I’m sorry, it wasn’t intentionally wrong.”

Midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai is expected to return from a hamstring injury at the weekend after four matches out but Klopp does not yet know if right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold (knee) will be available for training on Friday.

Jurgen Klopp hailed Liverpool’s game plan and admitted his players “understood” the occasion better than Fulham after Wednesday night’s 1-1 Carabao Cup semi-final draw booked their place in the final thanks to a 3-2 aggregate win.

Luiz Diaz’s first-half strike was cancelled out by Issa Diop’s 76th-minute equaliser but the Cottagers could not find another at Craven Cottage as the Reds set up a Wembley showdown with Chelsea.

Klopp praised Liverpool’s second-half performance, where they soaked up pressure and frustrated Marco Silva’s men.

“They came out and they pressed for a while, but we understood the game slightly better,” Klopp said.

“I liked the second half as well. We should’ve scored, there were two situations.

“I think the counter-attack, everything was perfect and then Lucho (Diaz) doesn’t find the right player – which was a little bit of a shame – and when Harvey (Elliott) could shoot with his slightly-weaker right foot, we could’ve put the game to bed, but we didn’t.”

Liverpool were far from their best on the night and missed the presence of Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Klopp knew the occasion would not be an easy one against their Premier League rivals but a solid team performance saw the visitors capitalise on their 2-1 first-leg advantage at Anfield.

“It was just a good game, a good cup game,” Klopp added.

“Whoever expected tonight that we just show quality and we get through and this will be a walk in the park doesn’t understand the game and doesn’t understand the importance of the occasion.

“Both teams wanted to go to Wembley – and we qualified and that’s all we could wish for.”

Joe Gomez continued to feature at left-back in place of the injured Andy Robertson and rarely put a foot wrong against Bobby De Cordova-Reid.

Klopp added: “He played exceptional today again. He’s a real defender and he comes inside. He’s doing that really well.

“He is a life-saver, to be honest, that he was here, that he could play and people forget how important Joey (Gomez) was in the best years we had.

“I don’t know how many games he played in the year when we became champions and how many games he played when we won the Champions League. A lot and rightly so because he’s a top-class player.”

Jurgen Klopp was delighted his Liverpool side matched Fulham’s desire to reach the Carabao Cup final after the Reds secured their place at Wembley with a spirited 1-1 second-leg draw at Craven Cottage.

Luis Diaz put the Reds in the driving seat in the first half and despite Issa Diop’s 76th minute equaliser giving Fulham late hope, Liverpool sealed a 3-2 aggregate win after their 2-1 victory at Anfield earlier this month.

Klopp lauded his side’s spirit in the late stages as they now ready themselves for a repeat of the 2022 final against Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea.

“We were just ready for this game and that’s the most important thing. I saw Marco Silva’s press conference and we know what this game meant to them and so I told the boys we have to also show it,” Klopp said.

“We had to show it to the outside world that we wanted it as much as them and I saw that.

“We had to get over the line and we did. It feels great, we are really happy, the boys wanted it and they got it and so we have 10 games to play before the final in four weeks or so. We are looking forward to Wembley.”

Liverpool defeated Chelsea in both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup finals two years ago and Klopp believes the Blues will be motivated to get their revenge.

He added: “It will be a big one but we all know it’s against Chelsea. They will want to put history right after playing us twice two years ago.”

Diaz was quick to react and beat Timothy Castagne in the air before a deflected strike got past Bernd Leno at his near post.

The Liverpool boss talked up the winger’s impact after his standout performance on the night.

Klopp said: “He was very good. He’s a fantastic player and I have absolutely no criticism of him but I wish he set up the second and scored the third.

“The speed and the power he can generate, the technique and the combination of that is outstanding so I’m really happy.”

Fulham dug deep to try and force the game into extra-time but their earlier missed opportunities frustrated Silva come full time.

Silva believes Liverpool’s experience in big games was the difference maker between the two sides.

He said: “Tonight I felt like they were much calmer than us and to them it was just another game. With most of our players it is new to them to play in a semi-final of this competition and it is what it is.

“I think the club is going to grow in these type of moments and the players as well.”

Liverpool booked their place in the Carabao Cup final as they capitalised on their first-leg advantage and held a spirited Fulham to a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage.

Luis Diaz’s opener was cancelled out by Issa Diop but the Red’s dug deep in the second leg to claim a 3-2 aggregate victory.

Liverpool will face Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea at Wembley on February 25, two years after defeating the Blues in both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup finals.

A fired up Fulham came out of the blocks fighting as they looked to overturn a 2-1 deficit.

After Joao Palhinha’s first-time volley from Andreas Pereira’s corner sailed over, the hosts continued to push through the overlapping Antonee Robinson whose dangerous delivery failed to connect with a white shirt.

But a moment of complacency saw Liverpool strike the first blow in the 11th minute.

Jarell Quansah sent a long ball forward which appeared routine for Timothy Castagne to claim but the full-back was caught napping by Diaz.

The winger reacted quickly to beat him in the air before he drove into the box and scored past Bernd Leno at his near post.

Diaz had the ball in the back of the net again after Darwin Nunez exploited large gaps between centre-backs Tosin Adarabioyo and Diop but the goal was ruled offside after the striker naively moved too soon.

The Cottagers sought inspiration through Raul Jimenez and the Mexico international’s long-range shot forced Caoimhin Kelleher into action when he tipped the ball wide for a corner.

The hosts, now galvanised, enjoyed a five-minute flurry but despite Willian’s attempt from distance and Tom Cairney finding promising pockets, Marco Silva’s men failed to get the goal they desperately needed.

Fulham’s momentum continued after the break but so did their poor day in front of goal. Second-choice keeper Kelleher failed to collect a high ball, losing out to Bobby Decordova-Reid before Pereira found the post from a tight angle instead of the open net.

Liverpool appeared to have rode the storm and began to turn the screw themselves. After Nunez’s effort whistled past Leno’s left post in the 63rd minute, powerful midfielder Ryan Gravenberch did well to get the ball out of his feet before producing a driven strike which missed the target, much to the delight of Leno who would have been well-beaten.

Fulham blew the tie wide open when they scored in the 77th minute.

Harry Wilson drove down the left and curved a cross into the area where he found Diop, who had galloped forward from the back and expertly claimed the leveller with a neat finish past the keeper.

The west Londoners pushed for a dramatic ending and to take the tie into extra-time but a stubborn Liverpool held on through four added minutes.

The EFL plans to stick with the two-leg format for the Carabao Cup semi-finals next season with no new funding agreement in place with the Premier League.

The PA news agency understands consideration is being given to reducing the semi-finals to a single leg as part of a ‘New Deal’ with the Premier League which includes extra funding for the EFL.

Calendar considerations are a part of the ‘New Deal’ talks as the Premier League seeks to manage the threat of congestion being caused by the expansion of UEFA’s club competitions next season.

However, no offer on funding has been put to the EFL by the Premier League to date, with top-flight clubs unable to agree on the amount of extra funding or where that funding should come from.

“As it stands there is no agreement in place to make any changes to the Carabao Cup’s two-legged semi-final format, which continues to provide significant financial benefit to EFL clubs,” the league’s chief executive Trevor Birch said.

“The league remains committed to a review of the calendar, but any significant changes cannot be made unilaterally and would need to come with significant levels of compensation and adopted as part of any new distribution deal with the Premier League and its clubs.”

Mauricio Pochettino said he is desperate to win the Carabao Cup in his first season at Chelsea after watching his team sweep aside Middlesbrough 6-1 to reach next month’s final at Wembley.

Stamford Bridge has suffered from a quiet atmosphere in recent months, often exacerbated by Chelsea failing to break teams down early, but a repeat here never looked like being a risk as they booked a meeting with either Liverpool or Fulham on February 25.

“I’m desperate to win a trophy here,” said Pochettino. “We won in three trophies in one and a half years at Paris (St Germain) and we want to win here.

“I’m desperate to win. That is the headline.

“It’s really important for us, we’re going to have Fulham or Liverpool, two amazing teams, it will be difficult. But now is the moment to believe we can win.”

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg at the Riverside Stadium, the hosts tore into their Championship opponents and banished memories of a chastening loss on Teesside.

Boro’s captain Jonny Howson inadvertently got the ball rolling by diverting past his own goalkeeper after 15 minutes, though Armando Broja was poised to tap home had the defender not intervened.

From there on, Chelsea steamrollered Michael Carrick’s side. Enzo Fernandez scored after being set up by good link-up play from Axel Disasi and the excellent Raheem Sterling, then Sterling feeding the surging Disasi to sweep home the third.

Boro caused problems for themselves trying to play out from the back, the match-winner from the first leg Hayden Hackney losing possession and gifting Cole Palmer Chelsea’s fourth before half-time.

Palmer, the top scorer for Pochettino’s side since his move from Manchester City, made it five late on before substitute Noni Madueke curled home via a deflection.

Morgan Rogers’ goal was greeted with a roar from travelling fans who had long since their Wembley dream slip away.

Pochettino added: “Now we need to prepare for Friday against Aston Villa (in the FA Cup), but this is an important step for us. The confidence and the belief in ourselves is so important.

“That is going to help because of the motivation. Players who are so close to coming back (from injury) – tomorrow, maybe a few injured players will want to come for training, seeing that the final is close.”

Boro manager Carrick reflected on a tie that ultimately proved too great a hurdle for his side despite heroics on Teesside two weeks ago.

“(The players) will learn from that after they have gotten over the disappointment,” he said.

“We had a big night at the Riverside where we managed to beat a really good Chelsea team. We just couldn’t get it done here unfortunately.”

Mauricio Pochettino said he is desperate to win the Carabao Cup in his first season at Chelsea after watching his team sweep aside Middlesbrough 6-1 to reach next month’s final at Wembley.

Stamford Bridge has suffered from a quiet atmosphere in recent months, often exacerbated by Chelsea failing to break teams down early, but a repeat here never looked like being a risk as they booked a meeting with either Liverpool or Fulham on February 25.

“I’m desperate to win a trophy here,” said Pochettino. “We won in three trophies in one and a half years at Paris (St Germain) and we want to win here.

“I’m desperate to win. That is the headline.

“It’s really important for us, we’re going to have Fulham or Liverpool, two amazing teams, it will be difficult. But now is the moment to believe we can win.”

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg at the Riverside Stadium, the hosts tore into their Championship opponents and banished memories of a chastening loss on Teesside.

Boro’s captain Jonny Howson inadvertently got the ball rolling by diverting past his own goalkeeper after 15 minutes, though Armando Broja was poised to tap home had the defender not intervened.

From there on, Chelsea steamrollered Michael Carrick’s side. Enzo Fernandez scored after being set up by good link-up play from Axel Disasi and the excellent Raheem Sterling, then Sterling feeding the surging Disasi to sweep home the third.

Boro caused problems for themselves trying to play out from the back, the match-winner from the first leg Hayden Hackney losing possession and gifting Cole Palmer Chelsea’s fourth before half-time.

Palmer, the top scorer for Pochettino’s side since his move from Manchester City, made it five late on before substitute Noni Madueke curled home via a deflection.

Morgan Rogers’ goal was greeted with a roar from travelling fans who had long since their Wembley dream slip away.

Pochettino added: “Now we need to prepare for Friday against Aston Villa (in the FA Cup), but this is an important step for us. The confidence and the belief in ourselves is so important.

“That is going to help because of the motivation. Players who are so close to coming back (from injury) – tomorrow, maybe a few injured players will want to come for training, seeing that the final is close.”

Boro manager Carrick reflected on a tie that ultimately proved too great a hurdle for his side despite heroics on Teesside two weeks ago.

“(The players) will learn from that after they have gotten over the disappointment,” he said.

“We had a big night at the Riverside where we managed to beat a really good Chelsea team. We just couldn’t get it done here unfortunately.”

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