Caoimhin Kelleher: Liverpool boss says ‘sentiment’ won as back-up goalkeeper helps Liverpool win Carabao Cup Last updated on
27 February 2022 27 February 2022 .From the section League Cup Six of Caoimhin Kelleher’s eight Liverpool appearances this season have been in cup competitions It was a tale of three goalkeepers at Wembley Stadium on Sunday – and it was a low-profile Irishman who emerged the hero ahead of the world’s most expensive goalkeeper and an Africa Cup of Nations winner.
Having picked 23-year-old academy product Caoimhin Kelleher for every game in this season’s Carabao Cup competition bar one, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp stayed true to his promise in selecting the Cork-born keeper ahead of established number one Alisson.
And his gamble paid off handsomely as Kelleher produced a string of fine saves as Liverpool and Chelsea ended 120 minutes of a dramatic final at 0-0, before scoring the winning penalty in a memorable 11-10 penalty shootout triumph.
At the other end, Chelsea and Senegal’s number one Edouard Mendy was substituted by boss Thomas Tuchel in the dying seconds of extra time, as replacement, and so-called penalty expert, £71m man Kepa Arrizabalaga missed the decisive spot-kick to hand Jurgen Klopp’s men a record ninth League Cup triumph.
“It is so nice that it [his inclusion] paid off.He deserves it,” Klopp said.”I am two things, a football manager and a human being and the human being won this time.
“He is a young boy, we ask him to do a lot, he starts playing in the competition and then we get to the final and I tell him he cannot play…” Klopp added.
“In professional football there should be space for sentiment.At the training centre we have a wall that all goalkeepers are on who won something and Caoimhin can go on it – that’s how it should be – absolutely great.”
‘This is just the start’ – reaction as Liverpool win dramatic final Liverpool win record ninth Carabao Cup ‘Glorious win could turbo charge Liverpool history bid’ ‘The best number two in the world’ Liverpool’s cup final shootout win was ‘spectacular’ – Klopp Klopp has previously described Kelleher as a project of the club’s goalkeeper coach John Achterberg and it is hardly surprising given his background.
The 23-year-old was a prolific striker as a schoolboy and only started playing in goal at under-14 level.
“It’s quite a story from when I saw him first time as a boy and the man he is today, he is an incredible talent,” added Klopp.
“Kelleher is the best number two in the world.He had an incredible game.The life of a number two is you just have to be ready when you are called and the game he played tonight was absolutely incredible.
“I can remember at least two incredible saves, probably more, so he proves that the decision to line him up was absolutely right, and then in a very spectacular shootout he showed the whole range of his skillset.”
Speaking on Sky Sports, former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp added: “I never thought for a second he would miss.
But he also made great saves in the match and he never gets flustered.
“He is working with one of the best in the world [in Alisson] and it can only only help.He is a credit and a young man with a big future.He is too good to be a number two.”
A springboard to more success? Liverpool’s record ninth EFL Cup success also handed Klopp his first domestic cup since taking charge at Anfield in 2015.
But could it be a springboard to an unprecedented quadruple?
The Reds host Norwich in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Wednesday and are currently second in the Premier League, six points behind leaders Manchester City with a game in hand.
They also hold a 2-0 lead over Inter Milan after the first leg of their last-16 tie in the Champions League and Klopp said “this is the start” after securing the first domestic trophy of the season.
“We are not silly.You need luck, we needed luck tonight,” he said.
“We have to survive, work hard and we have to play on Wednesday again, which I cannot believe at this moment.But Anfield will be rocking because of this result and hopefully we can deliver a game to enjoy.”
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson added: “Today was really special.I never take for granted playing for this club.The fans deserve it and hopefully it can kick-start us for the rest of the season.”
Kepa substitution attracts criticism While Kelleher was the hero in a tale of three goalkeepers, with Mendy also impressing for Chelsea, Kepa was consoled by his team-mates after the game.
The 27-year-old was introduced at the end of extra time in similar circumstances to the Uefa Super Cup final win, but this time the tactic was criticised by Redknapp after he failed to get close to saving even one of Liverpool’s 11 penalties.
Kepa remains the most expensive goalkeeper in the world after joining the Blues from Athletic Bilbao for £71m in 2018 “I don’t like it.
I think it’s rubbish,” Redknapp added.”Mendy is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, he is just as likely to save it.
It is just being too clever for his own good.”
Blues manager Thomas Tuchel responded by saying: “Unfortunately he could not save one, the penalties were brilliantly taken and it was a bit harsh on him to miss the penalty but there’s no blame.
“I take the decisions and when I take the decisions, I cannot judge my decisions.We don’t know what would’ve happened if we left Edouard on the pitch.Sometimes it works out, sometimes it does not – this is the life of a football coach.”
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