Liverpool come from behind to beat Fulham 2-1 in Carabao Cup

Liverpool got their EFL Cup semi-final off to a good start despite first-half scare against Fulham.

Liverpool and Fulham headed into the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final clash at Anfield with the opportunity to face either Chelsea or Middlesbrough at Wembley Stadium in the final. The home side were without key men Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dominik Szoboszlai, while the visiting team had to cover for the absence of Alex Iwobi, who is away at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Both teams had progressed to the next round of the FA Cup in their previous games and were looking to edge closer to qualification in another domestic cup. Liverpool would be the eventual winners on the evening after turning the game around to take a 2-1 lead into the second leg of the tie.

Van Dijk’s error gives Fulham the lead

The Dutch center-back returned to the line-up after an illness

The first half of the tie was an even affair as Liverpool enjoyed the lion’s share of possession without giving Bernd Leno in the Fulham goal much to worry about. The Cottagers dug in while the hosts huffed and puffed through the opening exchanges of the game looking to make something happen.

This patience was rewarded in the 19th minute as Virgil van Dijk made an uncharacteristic error as he presented the ball to Andreas Pereira, who then found Willian in the Liverpool penalty area. The Brazilian veteran showed excellent composure to wriggle into some space and fire a low effort past Caoimhin Kelleher to give his side the lead.

Van Dijk has appeared to be back to his imperious best in the 2023/24 season after suffering a difficult campaign previously. The mistake would not prove to be costly by the end of the game, but did hand Fulham a goal against the run of play that could still come into the contest later down the line.

Liverpool fight back to seal victory

Nunez and Gakpo prove to be pivotal coming off the bench

After an open start to the second half – in which Fulham had two great opportunities to extend their lead through Bobby Decordova-Reid – Liverpool drew level after some brilliant work from Diogo Jota before a stroke of luck went their way.

The Portuguese forward kept the ball under pressure and as it fell to Curtis Jones, the Reds’ impressive midfielder struck a left-footed shot goalward from range. Tosin Adarabioyo turned his back when attempting to block the effort and saw the ball strike him before looping over Leno and into the net.

A very unfortunate goal for Fulham to concede after Marco Silva’s men had put in an incredible display to that point. Things went from bad to worse for the away team, however, as Darwin Núñez broke free down the left flank just moments later before cutting the ball back perfectly to Cody Gakpo, who applied the finishing touch to turn the game on its head.

It looked for all the world that the Reds would increase their advantage with the momentum swinging firmly in their direction, but a huge save from leno to deny Nunez from close range kept the west London side in the contest heading into the second leg at Craven Cottage.

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