Van Dijk's 118th-minute goal leads inspiring Liverpool to League Cup win

Virgil van Dijk's 118th-minute header lifted Liverpool to the League Cup with a 1-0 win over Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

The injury-plagued Reds lost Ryan Gravenberch to injury during the game and introduced three untested teenagers as subs but still outlasted the Blues to guarantee Jurgen Klopp at least one trophy in his last season at Anfield.

Both goalkeepers — Caoiminh Kelleher for Liverpool and Djordje Petrovic for Chelsea — were exceptional in the third meeting between the sides since Pochettino retook the reins of Chelsea this summer.

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And both teams had goals kept off the board by VAR, as Raheem Sterling and Van Dijk had the ball in the goal in the first 90 minutes.

Liverpool have won the League Cup more than any other club, and their 10 triumphs are top of the pops. Chelsea stay on five wins from 10 finals.

Klopp last won the trophy in 2022, beating Chelsea after penalty kicks. The Blues have lost the final twice since claiming top honors in 2015.

The sides drew 1-1 at Stamford Bridge on Week 1, but the Liverpool claimed a decisive 4-1 win over the Blues at Anfield at the end of January.

Van Dijk seals fitting final for Jurgen Klopp’s Goodbye Tour

The three teenagers that Jurgen Klopp sent out during the second half of regular team had each accumulated fewer than 100 senior minutes this season for the Reds, but the jobs done by Bobby Clark, Jayden Danns, and James McConnell say so much about what Jurgen Klopp has instilled in a Liverpool club that had stumbled from power before he took the reins.

Not one of that trio, nor 20-year-old starter Conor Bradley or late 21-year-old sub Jarell Quansah, appeared to have any sense that their job was anything but to take the bull by the horns and get Liverpool another trophy. Not that opponents Chelsea are anything special this year, but there were a lot of boys going against men and the boys looked like the leaders.

And that's why it's special that Van Dijk not only led the unit but scored the winner. Think of how many clubs have suffered injury runs like Liverpool, and how many just ended up leaning on the absences as excuses. Klopp didn't have Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, Alisson Becker, Dominik Szoboszlai, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Diogo Jota amongst others. All of them game-changing talents.

They won. Fantastic.

What’s next?

Liverpool host Southampton in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday, then go to Nottingham Forest in Premier League play at 10am ET Saturday.

Chelsea have the same schedule, with Leeds visiting in the FA Cup before a trip to Brentford in the PL on Saturday.

Chelsea vs Liverpool: How to watch League Cup Final live, stream link, TV channel, start time

Kickoff: 10am ET Sunday
TV Channel/Stream: ESPN+

Chelsea vs Liverpool live updates - By Nick Mendola

Chelsea vs Liverpool final score: 0-1

Goal: Van Dijk (118')

Chelsea vs Liverpool player ratings (

Chelsea vs Liverpool player ratings (
Chelsea vs Liverpool player ratings (

Liverpool pressing for winner, Chelsea set back

Petrovic with a goal line collection of the highest order and the referee will have been checking his watch to see if the ball crossed the line.

Both sets of players looks absolutely cooked, and Noni Madueke — a sub — is one of the Chelsea players still pushing up the field.

You get the feeling it's headed for penalties and that Chelsea especially would take that. Says something for the performance of Liverpool's kids!

First period of ET scoreless

Right now you'd have to peg the goalkeepers as front-runners for Man of the Match, something penalties would only seem to ensure as the outcome.

Kelleher has six saves and 12 recoveries, He has faced 2.65 xG so far.

Petrovic, the MLS export, has eight saves and 15 recoveries while facing 2.30 xG.

Extra time looms

If Mauricio Pochettino cannot get his men over the line against a Liverpool team currently boasting three players 19 or younger, not one with 100 senior minutes this season, then maybe he won't ever win a trophy in England.

That's not to say Liverpool aren't good or Chelsea cannot play well and lose, but at some point it would feel like something is activelt against him.

Caoimhin Kelleher coming up huge

He's up to six saves after collecting the ball off an almighty goalmouth scramble in the Liverpool box, as either keeper is in line for Man of the Match honors at this point.

Jurgen Klopp has introduced Tsimikas as well as youngsters Bobby Clark, Jayden Danns, and James McConnell while Mauricio Pochettino plugged in Nkunku and Mudryk. Off are Andy Robertson, Conor Bradley, Cody Gakpo, Alexis Mac Allister, Raheem Sterling, and Nicolas Jackson.

This will really be a missed chance if Chelsea don't find a way to score before this gets to penalties, as it looks like extra time against Liverpool's kids is on the menu.

Another post!

It's a pretty flicked shot of a cross, and Conor Gallagher almost has Chelsea on the board.

Instead it's another time the ball clips the post. The frames of the goals have been almost as busy as the keepers.

VAR review of Liverpool goal

Veterans combine for a goal as Andy Robertson's left-footed free kick is thundered home off the head of Virgil van Dijk.

Celebrations commence but are soon cooled as Wataru Endo may have blocked off Ben Chilwell in the Chelsea captain's pursuit of Van Dijk.

VAR reviews, and the goal is disallowed.

Halftime! Chelsea 0-0 Liverpool

First attacker to step up wins, as the teams have combined to five shots on target but the only would-be goal was correctly ruled offside.

Almost every potential Liverpool sub is an untested youth, with Kostas Tsimikas an exception and young Jarell Quansah a half-exception due to some meaningful time this season.

Chelsea can introduce Noni Madueke, Mykhailo Mudryk, and Christopher Nkunku. The longer this goes, especially with Liverpool having played at midweek versus Luton Town, the more you'd have to favor Chelsea.

Cody Gakpo hits the post!

Oooh, Liverpool come so close.

A bad giveaway from Axel Disasi allows Andy Robertson to cross toward the heart of the six.

Cody Gakpo is a step or two outside the six and he heads it away from Petrovic but it dinks off the bottom of the far post and Chelsea captain Ben Chilwell deals with it.

Five minutes plus stoppage time in the first half.

VAR review of Chelsea goal — Offside

Raheem Sterling has the ball over the line off a Nicolas Jackson square ball but the flag is up!

Wait, though — this looks close and Jackson may have been onside with his run to break the Blues back line.

Lines have to be drawn.... and he's just offside. Incredibly close and good call by the AR.

Ryan Gravenberch injury — Jurgen Klopp shuffles lineup

Another injury for Liverpool, as Ryan Gravenberch takes a rough challenge on the ankle and requires assistance to get off the field.

Joe Gomez will come into the fray for the midfielder, sliding into right back while Conor Bradley will scoot forward on the right and Harvey Elliott drops into the midfield.

Less than a half-hour into the match. Still scoreless.

All Liverpool but Petrovic, defense holding firm

The injuries have not affected Liverpool's plan to control the game, and Djordje Petrovic has just made a save on Luis Diaz.

Chelsea otherwise has been there to block the ball from getting to Petrovic's frame.

Chelsea lineup

Nicolas Jackson is preferred to Chrisopher Nkunku, who takes his place on the bench along with Mykhailo Mudryk. Djordje Petrovic keeps his place between the posts despite Robert Sanchez's return.

Liverpool lineup

Mohamed Salah does not pass fit, nor does Dominik Szobozslai. Ibrahima Konate is in the XI and Andy Robertson as well.

Chelsea focus, team news

Christopher Nkunku's scored twice for the Blues in just 343 minutes this season thanks to a long-term injury. Sunday would be a terrific opportunity for the longtime RB Leipzig star to earn some Chelsea plaudits.

OUT: Reece James (thigh), Marc Cucurella (ankle), Romeo Lavia (thigh), Carney Chukwuemeka (ankle), Wesley Fofana (torn ACL), Lesley Ugochukwu (hamstring), Benoit Badiashile (groin) | QUESTIONABLE: Thiago Silva (groin)

Liverpool focus, team news

The Reds will need to get big days from their depth in order to claim the prize, though positive updates on injuries to Mohamed Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai, and/or Darwin Nunez could take the Reds from decent odds to expected winners.

OUT: Trent Alexander-Arnold (knee), Joel Matip (torn ACL - out for season), Stefan Bajcetic (calf), Thiago Alcantara (groin), Diogo Jota (knee - out months), Alisson (thigh injury), Curtis Jones (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Mohamed Salah (thigh), Darwin Nunez (undisclosed), Dominik Szoboszlai (thigh)