Liverpool halfway to League Cup final after first-leg comeback to beat Fulham

Liverpool overcame a slow start and an early deficit to beat Fulham 2-1 in the first leg of the League Cup semifinals at Anfield on Wednesday.

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The Reds trudged their way through an uninspired first half which saw them go a goal down after 19 minutes and never properly respond. Virgil van Dijk mis-controlled a header inside his own penalty area, and Anders Pereira was free to dribble inside and cut the ball back for Willian near the penalty spot. The Brazilian danced past two defenders and slotted through at the near post to take the lead on their only true scoring chance in the game.

While Liverpool dominated possession and ramped up the aggression to start the second half, for the first 25 minutes Fulham managed to limit Jurgen Klopp's side to more shots from distance and very little inside the penalty area. Unfortunately for the Cottagers, one of those shots, from Curtis Jones in the 68th minute, took a wild deflection off Tosin Adarabioyo's back, looped and curled away from Bernd Leno and found the back of the net. That brought Anfield to life, as did the winner three minutes later.

Diogo Jota raced down the left wing and played Darwin Nuñez into the penalty with a through ball. The Uruguayan quickly cut back a cross with his left foot and found Cody Gakpo making the near-post run, still with lots to do on the finish. Gakpo dug the ball out from behind him and hammered it inside the near post before Leno knew the shot had been taken.

The second leg will be at Craven Cottage on Jan. 24, with the winner facing either Chelsea or Middlesbrough (1-0 leaders after Tuesday’s first leg) at Wembley Stadium on Feb. 25.

Liverpool vs Fulham, final score: 2-1

Goalscorers: Willian (19'), Curtis Jones (68'), Cody Gakpo (71')

19th minute - GOAL - Willian dances around defenders, scores the opener

68th minute - GOAL - Curtis Jones’ shot takes a wild deflection off Tosin Adarabioyo for 1-1

71st minute - GOAL - Cody Gakpo turns home Darwin Nuñez’s cross to complete the comeback

How to watch Liverpool vs Fulham, League Cup semifinal live, stream link, time

Kickoff: 3 pm ET, Wednesday (Jan. 10)
Online: ESPN+

Liverpool starting lineups

Kelleher — Gomez, Konate, Van Dijk, Bradley — Mac Allister, Gravenberch, Jones — Elliott, Jota, Diaz

Fulham starting lineups

Leno — Castagne, Adarabioyo, Diop, Robinson — Reed, Palhinha — De Cordova-Reid, Pereira, Willian, Jimenez

Focus on Liverpool, team news

The likes of Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz are expected to start in attack as Klopp has so many weapons to use in the final third. We saw youngsters Bobby Clark and Conor Bradley perform really well off the bench in their FA Cup win at Arsenal at the weekend and Bradley will probably start due to Alexander-Arnold's injury. Liverpool squad is looking very stretched at the moment.

OUT: Mohamed Salah (international duty), Trent Alexander-Arnold (knee), Joel Matip (torn ACL - out for season), Andrew Robertson (shoulder), Wataru Endo (international duty), Stefan Bajcetic (calf), Thiago Alcantara (groin), Konstantinos Tsimikas (shoulder) | QUESTIONABLE: Dominik Szoboszlai (hamstring)

Focus on Fulham, team news

Due to their comfortable league position, the Cottagers have taken the cup competitions very seriously and advanced in the FA Cup at the weekend as they beat Rotherham at home. Raul Jimenez, Joao Palhinha, Antonee Robinson, Willian and Tom Cairney were all rested for that FA Cup win and should all come back in for this semifinal.

OUT: Adama Traore (hamstring), Calvin Bassey (international duty), Alex Iwobi (international duty), Fode Ballo-Toure (international duty) | QUESTIONABLE: Tim Ream (calf)