Chelsea, under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino, fielded a strong starting XI: Petrovic; Malo Gusto, Disasi, Colwill, Chilwell; Caicedo, Enzo; Palmer, Gallagher, Sterling; Jackson. The team came into the match with high hopes of clinching a title this season, riding on the belief that victories like these are foundational for building a winning project and team.

Liverpool's line-up featured Kelleher; Bradley, Konaté, Van Dijk, Robertson; Endo, Gravenberch, Mac Allister; Elliott, Gakpo, Luis Díaz. Notably absent were Salah and Nuñez, neither of whom made it to the bench, marking significant absences alongside Allison, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Jota.

The match kicked off amid a spectacular atmosphere, with the traditional 'God save the King' echoing around Wembley. The opening minutes were characterized by mutual respect and cautious play from both sides, with neither team committing to high pressure or aggressive forward pushes. However, Liverpool gradually found their rhythm, taking the initiative through set pieces and increasingly dominating possession.

One of Liverpool's early forays came from Robertson's cross to Luis Díaz, whose attempt on goal lacked the power to trouble Chelsea's goalkeeper, Petrovic. As the half progressed, Liverpool appeared more comfortable, with Mac Allister and Luis Díaz testing Chelsea's defense with shots from distance and incisive runs, respectively.

Image Credit: Twitter Liverpool FC
Image Credit: Twitter Liverpool FC

Despite Liverpool's growing influence, Chelsea managed to create a significant chance through Palmer, only to be denied by an alert save from Kelleher. The match then experienced a brief pause due to a hefty challenge by Caicedo on Gravenberch, leading to the latter's substitution—a moment that momentarily swung the momentum in Chelsea's favor.

Approaching the half-hour mark, the match witnessed controversy as VAR intervened to disallow a goal from Sterling for Chelsea, citing a possible offside in the buildup. This decision maintained the deadlock but underscored the competitive edge both teams brought to the final.

As the first half neared its conclusion, both teams had opportunities to break the stalemate. Liverpool, in particular, saw a header from Gakpo strike the post, highlighting the fine margins defining the match. Despite additional time added for injuries and the VAR check, neither side could find the breakthrough, leaving all to play for in the second half.

Both teams unable to break the deadlock

The second half of the Carabao Cup final unfolded with increased intensity and drama, as Chelsea started stronger, dominating possession and pushing the play into Liverpool's half. As both teams sought to impose their will, the match developed into an open contest, with the ball moving swiftly from one end to the other, reflecting the physical prowess and tactical acumen of both squads. It was a period marked by Chelsea's ascendancy, challenging Liverpool's defense and testing goalkeeper Kelleher more frequently.

Image Credit: Twitter Chelsea FC
Image Credit: Twitter Chelsea FC

The drama escalated in the 59' minute when Liverpool thought they had broken the deadlock. Following a free-kick about 30 meters from Chelsea's goal, the ball was delivered to the penalty spot, where Virgil Van Dijk's powerful header found the net. However, the celebration was short-lived as VAR intervention ruled the goal offside, maintaining the tension and the 0-0 scoreline. This moment epitomized the nail-biting nature of the contest, with both sides displaying their strengths and creating chances that could have tipped the balance in their favor.

Despite the added six minutes of stoppage time and Chelsea's relentless pressure, including a sequence of three consecutive shots blocked by Liverpool's defense, the match ended in a 0-0 stalemate after regulation time. The final whistle confirmed that extra time would be needed to decide the winner, underlining the evenly matched nature of the contest. Both teams had periods of dominance, with Liverpool impressing in the first half and Chelsea responding strongly in the second. The outcome remained uncertain, setting the stage for a dramatic conclusion to what had already been a captivating final. The clash at Wembley was a testament to the competitive spirit and quality of both sides, promising an enthralling finale to the Carabao Cup.

Liverpool's assertiveness was evident just minutes into extra time. An early chance saw Van Dijk heading down to a teammate, whose subsequent header forced a corner. This moment was a sign of things to come, as Liverpool began to carve out opportunities, buoyed by the vocal support of their fans. The sea of scarves and songs from the Liverpool section underscored the rising momentum, with the team pushing forward and Chelsea holding firm, relying on their defensive solidity and looking for chances to counter.

Image Credit: Twitter Liverpool FC
Image Credit: Twitter Liverpool FC

Van Dijk's moment in a great match

As the second part of extra time unfolded, Chelsea initially sought to impose themselves, enjoying spells of possession. However, Liverpool's strategic play gradually tipped the scales back in their favor. The turning point came when Virgil Van Dijk, who had an earlier goal disallowed for offside, found the net in a moment of redemption. A corner kick was expertly converted by Van Dijk, marking a goal that was both timely and well-deserved, given Liverpool's performance in extra time.

With time dwindling, Chelsea advanced in search of an equalizer that would extend the match to penalties. Despite their efforts and an additional three minutes of stoppage time, Liverpool's defense remained unbreachable. The match concluded with Liverpool securing a narrow but deserved victory, a testament to their determination and quality on such a significant stage.

This victory marked a significant milestone for Liverpool, capturing their eighth Carabao Cup title in a match that showcased football at its most competitive and enthralling. For Jurgen Klopp, securing another trophy was a fitting addition to his legacy at Liverpool, especially announced in the context of his upcoming departure at season's end. The match itself was a spectacle of tactical nous, physicality, and moments of individual brilliance, encapsulating the essence of a cup final where every detail could sway the outcome. In the end, Liverpool's perseverance and a moment of clarity from Van Dijk were enough to overcome a Chelsea side, ensuring that the trophy would return to Anfield.