A heavily rotated Liverpool side was knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Arsenal as Bernd Leno proved to be decisive, saving two penalties in the shootout.
As expected, Jürgen Klopp made a host of changes to his side at Anfield with only Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah keeping their place in the XI.
Joining the regular starters were Adrián, Neco Williams, Rhys Williams, James Milner, Harry Wilson, Marko Grujic, Curtis Jones, Takumi Minamino and Diogo Jota.
A scrappy start saw Arsenal carve out the first real chance of the game as Edward Nketiah looked to round Adrián who fortunately for Liverpool got down quickly and managed to swipe the ball from the youngster’s boot.
As the half continued the game opened up slightly however the affair remained very much even as neither side looked to give the other an advantage.
In addition to its scrappy nature, the half proved to be one that saw both keepers rarely tested, with the Reds registering their first attempt on target in the 44th minute as Bernd Leno dived to his left to palm away a goal bound header from Jota.
Although denying Jota, Leno’s save saw the ball bounce out into the path of Minamino, who with the goal at his mercy could only hit the crossbar as he struggled to connect well with the bouncing ball.
At half-time the score remained 0-0.
The start of the second half was immediately more entertaining as Liverpool, through van Dijk, tested Leno early on as the German ‘keeper reacted sharply down to his right to keep the score level.
Looking the likelier of the two sides to break the deadlock, Klopp’s men quickly followed up their first chance of the half with attempts on goal from both Jota and Grujic as the Reds began to pile on the pressure.
The Reds continued to carve out chances as Jota and Grujic again went close, however, Leno seemed to be in inspired form as the German continued to beat and claw away every Liverpool attempt.
Despite Liverpool’s second half dominance, Arsenal showed that they we still a dangerous prospect as Adrian was successfully called upon to deny Rob Holding with a quick reflex save from close range.
Following the Arsenal attempt the match reverted into its scrappy first half nature as both sides looked to remain tight in defence as they fought for control of the ball.
Despite their best efforts, an occasionally disjointed Liverpool couldn’t get past Leno, and the game petered out to penalties.
Here’s how the shootout went down.
Milner – Goal (1-0)
Lacazette – Goal (1-1)
Wijnaldum – Goal (2-1)
Cedric – Goal (2-2)
Minamino – Goal (3-2)
Elneny – Saved (3-2)
Origi – Saved (3-2)
Maitland-Niles – Goal (3-3)
Jones – Goal (4-3)
Pepe – Goal (4-4)
Wilson – Saved (4-4)
Willock – Goal (4-5)
A close contest decided by penalties which went to sudden death. The Reds depart the competition, set to return to their bigger priority of the Premier League in a few days time.
Next up is a visit to Villa Park and an in-form Aston Villa on October 4.
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