The opening game of the EFL Cup Semifinal first leg saw the only non-English Premier League side in the Last Four Middlesbrough took on Chelsea at home, and the team managed by former Manchester United captain Michael Carrick went on to upset the Blues with a 1-0 victory. In last night’s second game of the EFL Cup Semifinal first leg, the current leaders of the English top-flight football Liverpool hosted fellow Premier League side Fulham at Anfield, and the Reds showed why they are the best team in the country at the moment by coming from one goal down to beat the Cottagers 2-1.
Reds Made a Statement Comeback Win in the EFL Cup Semifinal First Leg
The Reds were without notable names coming into this EFL Cup Semifinal first leg due to injuries and players’ participations in international competitive matches in the 2023 African Cup of Nations and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, including Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson, Kostas Tsimikas, Thiago Alcântara, Joël Matip, Dominik Szoboszlai, Mohamed Salah and Wataru Endo.
The shorthanded Liverpool side were punished by the visiting Fulham in this EFL Cup Semifinal first leg, courtesy of ex-Chelsea star Willian in the 19th minute. The fit-again Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk was unable to clear the ball away inside his own half, allowing former Manchester United midfielder Andreas Pereira to storm into the penalty box, before he set up his older compatriot Willian for a shot on the Liverpool goal. The 35-year-old Willian showed enormous composure inside the dangerous zone, getting past two opponents, followed by a shot that beat past Caoimhin Kelleher for the opening goal of this EFL Cup Semifinal first leg.
The Reds were down but not out in the second match of the EFL Cup Semifinal first leg, rallying themselves back into the game and eventually winning it with goals in quick succession in the following 45 minutes. England midfielder Curtis Jones was the man Liverpool thanked for their equaliser. The 22-year-old player fired in a long-ranged bomb at the Fulham goal, and the effort would take a huge deflection to wrongfoot the opposing goalkeeper and made things all square again. Not long after the Jones goal, substitute Cody Gakpo combined with another replacement Darwin Núñez around the six-yard box to score the winner of this EFL Cup Semifinal first leg.
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Klopp on Núñez: “He Does Absolutely Everything Right.”
Klopp was all praise on Uruguayan Núñez’s performance against Fulham for the Reds in the EFL Cup Semifinal first leg, saying he did no wrong in his second half showing after coming onto the pitch as a 56th-minute substitute. “He plays outstanding, I have to say it. There are so many things I love about his game. The first year was a year to adapt and he scored here and there but now he contributes in all games. The boys don’t start because they score or not score. My belief and trust in them, as long as they behave properly, is endless. They deserve it because of the effort they put in,” said Klopp.
The head coach from Germany also added: “I don’t know how to explain the Darwin situation. I’m so happy about Darwin’s reaction and how he takes it but you cannot be more unlucky in these finishing situations. That’s not possible. He does absolutely everything right, yet the ball does not go in. And then he still sets up the other goal. I think that is really special.”
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