By Temisan Amoye, Lagos
Anfield witnessed a memorable Carabao cup night, as Liverpool progressed 5-4 against Arsenal on penalties, after playing a thrilling 5-5 draw over 90 minutes.
This victory sees the Reds progress to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup. In a match where Arsenal needed a positive result to lift the mood of the club, Unai Emery’s men will be wondering how they left Anfield as losers, seeing as Liverpool had to come back from behind thrice to secure an exciting full-time draw.
It was a mix of youth and squad players for Liverpool, with youngsters Harvey Elliot, Rhian Brewster lead the line with the more experienced Divock Origi, while captain James Milner partnered youngster Neco Williams as fullbacks. Arsenal featured a relatively more experienced team with the likes of Mustafi, Kolasinac, Bellerin and Mesut Ozil all in the starting XI
Liverpool took the lead in the 6th minute, through a Mustafi own goal, the German defender tried to clear a low drive from Chamberlain at the near post, but succeeded in diverting it into his goal. Lucas Torreira equalized for Arsenal in the 19th minute.
Brazilian striker, Gabriel Martinelli put Arsenal 2-1 up in the 26th minute. Things would get worse for Liverpool, as Martinelli doubled his tally to make it 3-1 in the 26th minute. Liverpool had a penalty shout in the 41st minute, but ref turned it down.
He would go on to award a 42nd-minute penalty to Liverpool, which skipper James Milner tucked in to take the game 3-2 into half time.
Half time resumed, with both sides having chances to score, but it was Arsenal who extended their lead when Maitland Niles scored in the 54th minute, after pouncing on a poor back pass from Milner.
Naby Keita was subbed out in the 55th minute and local Liverpool teenager Curtis Jones came on. Midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain added to his collection of fine goals for Liverpool, with a peach of a strike to make it 4-3 in the 58th minute.
Striker Divock Origi refused to be left out of the goal-fest, and he scored a beauty in the 62nd minute. The Belgian received a pass from substitute Jones, easily turned gunners defender Holding, and powered a right-footed strike to make it 4-4 for Liverpool.
Martinelli had the chance to score a hat-trick, but his first-time effort went over the bar. Joe Willock compensated for Martinelli’s miss with a curling effort in the 70th minute to give Arsenal the lead. Making it a night of spectacular goals.
With the game staying 5-4 in favour of Arsenal by the end of 90 minutes, Liverpool pressed for an equalizer in extra time, and were rewarded in the 94th minute of extra time, when Divock Origi stepped up to score another beauty, his 2nd of the match and Liverpool’s fifth, taking the tie straight to a penalty shootout.
Academy goalkeeper Caomihn Kelleher would go on to put a crazy 90 minutes behind him, where he shipped in 5 goals to be the hero of the night, saving Dani Ceballos’s spot-kick.
This victory sees Liverpool progress to the quarter-finals, increasing their chances of winning silverware this season. But an already congested fixture list will give manager Jurgen Klopp some form of concern.
Arsenal, on the other hand, are in unwanted territory, the manner in which they lost control of the game is sure to agitate an already angry fan base, adding pressure to manager Unai Emery’s troubled season.