Liverpool won a penalty shootout against Stoke City at Anfield to reach the Capital One Cup final as manager Jurgen Klopp ensured his first season in charge will bring a trip to Wembley.
Marko Arnautovic scored for Stoke to claw back Liverpool’s one-goal advantage from the first leg – but it was agony for Mark Hughes’ side when it came to spot-kicks.
Much-criticised Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was Liverpool’s hero with saves from Peter Crouch and Marc Muniesa, allowing substitute Joe Allen to step forward to secure a meeting with either Manchester City or neighbours Everton at Wembley on 28 February.
A tight encounter was sent to penalties by Arnautovic’s goal, seemingly scored from an offside position, in first-half stoppage time.
Jon Walters, Glenn Whelan, Ibrahim Affelay, Xherdan Shaqiri and Marco van Ginkel were all on target for Stoke, while Adam Lallana, Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino, James Milner and Lucas were successful for Liverpool – before Allen settled matters to send Anfield wild in celebration
Jurgen Klopp has endured mixed fortunes since his appointment as Liverpool manager in early October – but now he has the chance to smooth an inevitable period of transition with success.
Some may not regard the League Cup as the biggest domestic prize, but it gives the charismatic German the opportunity to cement his reputation with silverware and also give the Reds their first trophy since they won this competition under Kenny Dalglish against Cardiff City in 2012.