Liverpool advance to final following penalty triumph
26th January 2016 7.45pm
Liverpool advance to the League Cup final after they scraped through on Penalties at Anfield on penalties.
Liverpool stopper Simon Mignolet saved two spots kicks from Peter Crouch and Marc Muniesa, before Joe Allen converted the winning penalty to send Jurgen Klopp`s men to Wembley.
The Potters had earlier won at Anfield for the first time in 59 years as Marko Arnautovic`s goal on the stroke of half time sent the tie to extra time.
Having lost the first leg 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke had to win the game to have any chance of advancing to a Wembley final for the first time since 2011.
Mark Hughes made four changes from the side that lost at league leaders Leicester at the weekend as Marc Muniesa, Bojan, Marko Arnautovic and Peter Crouch came in for injured Ryan Shawcross, Xherdan Shaqiri, Joselu and Mame Biram Diouf made way.
Whilst Jurgen Klopp made two changes as injured Nathaniel Clyne and Jordan Ibe made way for Jon Flanagan and Adam Lallana.
The Potters started the brightest as they looked to cancel out their first leg deficit and kept possession of the ball well but also looked to mix it up with target man Peter Crouch another outlet.
It wasn`t until midway through the first half that either side had a sighting at goal. Erik Pieters played a superb ball down the channel which Jon Walters managed to run on to but he could only drag his shot wide, with increasing pressure from Sakho and a narrowing angle.
Emre Can nearly put the tie to bed with a superb strike from 25-yards but the German`s effort went narrowly wide of Jack Butland`s goal.
With time ticking down to half-time, Stoke got their breakthrough.
Jonathan Walters regaining possession in the Potters midfield, and produced a magnificent couple of interchanges with Bojan, before the latter found himself in space on the edge of the penalty and managed to square to Marko Arnautovic, who coolly slotted past Simon Mignolet to level up the tie.
Replays showed that Arnautovic had strayed into an offside position, but the goal stood.
Jurgen Klopp`s men came out in the second half with a little more purpose, and could have regained the lead over the tie after a corner was half clear and managed to find its way to Firmino, but his effort rebounded back off the post and wide.
Stoke managed to grab a strangle hold on the second half as they did with the first, and nearly took the lead in the tie for the first time, but Liverpool`s man of the match Mamadou Sakho produced a superb block when Jonathan Walters effort looked destined for the back of the net.
In the dying embers of the game, when extra time looked the most likely scenario, Liverpool had a massive penalty shout when the ball struck the arm of Erik Pieters in the penalty area in front of the Kop, but the shout was waved away by referee Jonathan Moss.
The tie went to extra time and Liverpool could have been in front within the first minute after some good play from Benteke, but Firmino could only hit his shot straight at Butland.
Stoke had their own chances in the additional 30 minutes, both falling to Marco van Ginkel, the first was when the Dutch midfielder ghosting into the penalty area from a Peter Crouch flick and took the ball on his chest but his effort struck the post.
Van Ginkel`s final effort was in the dying embers of extra time, but his half volley was easily stopped from Mignolet, so the tie went to penalties.
The first two penalties were converted, but Peter Crouch`s penalty was well saved by Simon Mignolet, before Emre Can struck the post to leave the scores at 1-1 after two penalties each. The next eight spot kicks were converted leaving the scores at 5-5 and in sudden death penalties.
Spaniard Marc Muniesa was the next to step up, but his conversion attempt was well saved by Mignolet. It was up to Joe Allen to send Liverpool to Wembley, and the Welsh midfielder calmly fired the ball into the top corner to begin the celebrations for Jurgen Klopp`s men.