Football League Cup

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Solskjaer credits ‘nerves of steel’ Rashford for wonderful winner

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Marcus Rashford sensed something was different with the balls well before his audacious, sensational free kick provided Manchester United’s route past Chelsea in the League Cup on Wednesday.

“It was the (League Cup) balls,” Rashford said. “In training, when we trained with them. When you shoot, with that up and down motion, they can go anywhere and thankfully today it went in the top corner.”

[ MORE: Chelsea 1-2 Man Utd ]

It sure did.

Rashford already had a penalty in his back pocket when he presided over the long distance free kick

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had lofty praise for the youngster’s goal.

Solskjaer compared Rashford’s free kick to one of the greatest to ever don a Manchester United shirt (Well, actually, one of the greatest to don any club shirt).

“It’s very Cristiano-like, isn’t it?” Solskjaer said to MUTV. “The boy has got nerves of steel, takes a penalty, no problem. Steps up and hits the ball like he does and wins us the game, fantastic.

“Marcus has that strike in him. I’ve seen him in training so many times and it’s got to be hitting the target soon, you think, because he’s had a few efforts and finally it goes in.”

Unreal stuff, and now Solskjaer is three wins from putting his first trophy in the United case as a manager (though it feels a safe bet that the “random draw” for the League Cup quarterfinals will pit the Red Devils with either Man City or Liverpool, seeing how the big name matches played out in this round).

Klopp hails Liverpool kids in game to ‘remember forever’

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We’re sure there are players who wouldn’t enjoy playing under Jurgen Klopp, but don’t count us in that group.

Liverpool’s manager summed up his attitude after his Reds came back from a 4-2 deficit to beat Arsenal in penalty kicks following a 5-5 score line after regulation in the League Cup.

“If you don’t win nobody remembers it in three years, if it works out the boys will remember it forever,” he said.

[ MORE: Match recap | GK hero reacts ]

Klopp put his faith deep in his squad for Wednesday’s unreal thriller, and was brimming with pride after several youngsters lifted Liverpool into the next round.

Caoimhin Kelleher stood tall to make the decisive penalty despite allowing five goals in his first senior start at Anfield, while 18-year-olds Curtis Jones and Neco Williams played big roles in the comeback. Jones scored the final penalty in the shootout, and Williams assisted on Origi’s stoppage time equalizer.

More from Klopp, via the BBC:

“Kelleher is an outstanding talent,” Klopp said. “The crossing from Williams, he might not thought he would play tonight. Jones… it was not my decision in the end for him to take the last penalty. When I saw the list Origi was the taker of the last one and they changed it obviously.

“We can talk about tactics but who cares on a night like this? I hoped for the boys they would have a game to remember. What they did tonight, I lost it really.”

Look at the photo above: That’s pure joy from Klopp. You might not love his touch line antics, but he loves the game for what it is and what it delivers. Respect.

Liverpool is onto the quarterfinals, where it will meet one of Manchester City, Everton, Manchester United, Colchester United, Oxford United, Leicester City, or Aston Villa.

Kelleher reacts to decisive penalty save in Liverpool-Arsenal thriller

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Caoimhin Kelleher‘s first senior start for Liverpool didn’t give him much to do, but his second was a whopper.

Kelleher was under siege over 90 minutes in a 5-5 thriller with Arsenal in the League Cup before making the only save of the shootout, denying Dani Ceballos to put the Reds in the quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Liverpool 5-5 (5-4 pens) Arsenal ]

The character needed to stand tall after allowing five goals at home is immense, and the 20-year-old Kelleher found it in him to make the decisive play of the day.

“I’ve done a lot of work with the keeper coach on saving penalties,” Kelleher said. “It was a crazy game to be a keeper, I didn’t have time to blink. It’s what dreams are made of, winning a shootout in front of the Kop. The atmosphere was amazing, I’ve never experienced anything like it.”

What a moment for the youngster, and it will be interesting to see whether Jurgen KIopp makes him his goalkeeper for the tournament now that the Reds are just three wins from silverware. Either way, he’ll have this night in his pocket for the rest of his life.

Rashford, Man Utd advance past Chelsea in League Cup

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Manchester United ended Chelsea’s seven-match losing streak behind a pair of Marcus Rashford goals at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in a 2-1 win that put the Red Devils in the draw for the League Cup quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Michy Batshuayi scored Chelsea’s goal, as Frank Lampard‘s men tasted defeat for the first time since a home loss to Liverpool by the same score line on Sept. 22.

Christian Pulisic went 70 minutes in the loss, his first match since scoring a hat trick versus Burnley.


Three things we learned

1. Rashford delivers the goods: His penalty problems a memory after stroking the opener from the spot, Marcus Rashford turned to other avenues to break a 1-1 deadlock late. Shortly after American star Christian Pulisic subbed out of the match, Rashford flummoxed Willy Caballero with a free kick from way downtown to give the visitors a place in the final 18.

What. A. Hit!

2. What about the American star? Pulisic didn’t have any heroics in his bag this time around, having plenty of trouble finding room to operate against blossoming Man Utd hard man Scott McTominay. He had some quality bids to combine with teammates terminated by said teammates, but his 70 minutes saw a shot off target and another blocked, 1-of-5 dribble success, 1 key pass, 2 tackles, and several rough moments in possession. There will be better days, but Scott McTominay had a monster day stifling Chelsea’s attackers.

3. Batsman scores a beauty: The dribble with four men around him is pretty good on its own, but the low drive from Batshuayi to level the score in the 61st minute is pure. If Tammy Abraham falters, Chelsea fans have a very good second choice (and third).

Man of the Match: Credit to McTominay, Jorginho, and Mateo Kovacic for a fine midfield battle, but Rashford was the man at Stamford Bridge.


 [ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

WATCH: Willock wonder goal in Liverpool-Arsenal thriller

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It takes something truly special to stand out from a game chock full of goals, and Arsenal’s Joe Willock had it.

The 20-year-old scored his seventh Arsenal goal on Wednesday in the Gunners’ League Cup tilt against Liverpool at Anfield, and it sure was pretty.

[ MORE: PL Player Power Rankings ]

With the match tied at 4 between two young, defense-optional sides, Willock went adventuring with a long dribble and daring shot which sent Caoimhin Kelleher back into his goal for a fifth time in just over an hour.