Friday, January 21, 2022

Liverpool 3-3 Leicester City (5-4 pens): Reds battle back from the brink to seal EFL Cup semi-final

SoccerNews in English Premier League 22 Dec 2021

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Liverpool are through to the EFL Cup semi-finals after edging Leicester City 5-4 in a penalty shootout having overturned a two-goal deficit in a gripping 3-3 draw.

Caoimhin Kelleher saved two Leicester penalties before Diogo Jota – a key figure off the bench – converted the crucial kick to send Jurgen Klopp’s much-changed Reds through.

A Vardy brace had initially put the visitors 2-0 up early on at Anfield, and although Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got Liverpool on the scoreboard, a spectacular Maddison strike had Leicester cruising at the break.

But half-time substitute Jota reduced the deficit again after the hour and Takumi Minamino equalised deep into stoppage time to force a shootout.

Minamino was the sole Red to miss his kick, but it mattered not as Kelleher denied Luke Thomas and Ryan Bertrand to allow Jota to wrap things up.

It had all looked so promising for Leicester when Vardy had them two up in the 13th minute, finishing off incisive passes from Maddison and then Patson Daka.

The Reds quickly pulled one back, Oxlade-Chamberlain slamming home from 18 yards after being teed up by Roberto Firmino.

But Maddison soon restored Leicester’s two-goal cushion, blasting past Kelleher from distance as the ball sat up kindly.

Vardy then hit the post in a one-on-one situation.

A seemingly perturbed Klopp made three changes at the break, and one of them paid dividends as Jota fired beyond Kasper Schmeichel, setting up a tense final 20 minutes.

Minamino struck a dramatic equaliser right at the end and would have sealed the win had he not hit the crossbar with his effort in the following shootout, but Kelleher and then Jota spared his blushes to send Liverpool through.

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