The remarkably resilient Reds came from behind three times to draw 5-5 with Arsenal before progressing to the League Cup quarter-finals on penalties
The League Cup has been dead, has been it?
Try telling that to this Liverpool side, this mix of youngsters and squad players who somehow managed to produce one of the most remarkable Anfield cup ties in memory.
Try telling Curtis Jones, the home-grown hero whose nerveless penalty sent Jurgen Klopp’s side through to the quarter-finals, after a breathless night under the lights.
Try telling Caoimhin Kelleher, whose save from Dani Ceballos earlier in the shootout was enough to tilt the tie in the Reds’ favour.
Arsenal will wonder how on earth they are heading back to London with nothing, having led comfortably at one stage. Unai Emery’s side squandered leads of 3-1, 4-2 and 5-4, taken to a shootout by Divock Origi’s stoppage-time equaliser as a pulsating 90 minutes ended at 5-5.
“When two teams want to attack and have fun,” tweeted Robin van Persie, the former Arsenal striker. He was spot on.
These were two much-changed teams, and two teams for whom defence was barely even an afterthought, but what entertainment they delivered. If there’s a madder game this season, it’ll be worth watching.
What courage this young Liverpool side showed. They were dead and buried at 3-1 and 4-2, naive defensively and feeling the intensity against a Gunners side which could boast far more top-level experience, top to bottom.
But something has happened at this club, something which makes accepting defeat an absolute no-no. The first team don’t do it, so why would the second-string and the kids?
“Our identity has been intensity,” said assistant manager Pep Lijnders on Tuesday. His players got the message.
Liverpool fielded a debutant at right-back, and what a performance Neco Williams turned in. It was the Welshman’s cross, well into added time, which allowed Origi to sweep home the leveller for 5-5. Origi, of course, knows exactly where to be when his team need him.
He’d scored the fourth too, although Joe Willock’s screamer looked to have won it for Arsenal soon after. Their fans, packed into the Anfield Road end, could barely believe what they were witnessing. Emery, again, has some explaining to do. He can’t even blame Granit Xhaka for this one.
As for Jurgen Klopp, he will pick the bones out of a slipshod defensive display, which saw Milner and Sepp van den Berg, 16 years apart, struggle badly. Milner gave Arsenal’s fourth goal away, while the teenage Dutchman looked overawed on his first Reds start.
Klopp may well have been disappointed with the contributions of some of his senior men.
Adam Lallana was swamped in his new holding midfield role, while Naby Keita departed early, perhaps with another injury, after a low-key 55 minutes. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored a worldie, but didn’t do too much else.
Origi did, though, and his desire in the second half seemed to lift those around him – including the crowd.
Harvey Elliott, the youngest soccer professional ever to play a competitive game for Liverpool at Anfield, kept going to the very end. Williams grew into the game, Rhian Brewster came alive, Jones emerged from the bench to make a difference.
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The young Scouser looks the closest of all, physically. Left out of the starting XI, he made his point in the best possible manner. It was fitting that he should convert the final spot-kick.
All in all, a wonderfully entertaining night, one which will live long in the memory for all who were here to witness it.
Liverpool march on. Only Arsenal will know how, though.