Examining how the national media reacted to Liverpool’s victory in the Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg against Fulham.
In the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final clash at Anfield, Liverpool orchestrated a remarkable comeback during the second half to secure a victory over Fulham.
The setback for the Reds came early on, precisely after 19 minutes, as Willian found the target, beating Caoimhin Kelleher. Nevertheless, Jurgen Klopp’s squad responded emphatically in the latter part of the game.
Curtis Jones initiated the resurgence by reducing the deficit with a deflected shot that eluded Bernd Leno in the Fulham goal. Subsequently, with just 19 minutes left in regular time, Cody Gakpo, who entered the match as a second-half substitute, propelled Liverpool into the lead. The following presents an overview of how the national media reacted to the game.
‘Some of the visiting fans were disappointed’
Henry Winter of The Times wrote: “Jurgen Klopp’s Midas touch with substitutes was seen again when he sent on Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo to rescue Liverpool in this entertaining Carabao Cup semi-final first leg.
“Klopp’s changes proved too much for Arsenal on Sunday and were too much for Fulham. Nunez supplied two assists, Gakpo applying the finishing touch to one, to give Liverpool a narrow lead to take to Craven Cottage in a fortnight. For 67 minutes, Fulham had defended resiliently and had taken the lead through Willian.
“Liverpool were stunned by Fulham’s 19th-minute goal. They had been in command but there was still a steeliness to Fulham, especially with Harrison Reed drafted in to partner Joao Palhinha in Marco Silva’s 4-2-3-1 system. Some of the visiting fans were disappointed that Silva had not started the more creative Tom Cairney ahead of Reed but the head coach was vindicated by the first half. Playing their first-ever League Cup semi-final, Fulham began looking compact and confident.”
‘Marco Silva has seen this Anfield movie before’
Chris Bascombe of the Daily Telegraph reported: “Marco Silva has seen this Anfield movie before, two quickfire goals turning what would have been a famous victory into defeat
“The Fulham coach must be getting sick of seeing his side perfectly execute a game plan, only for Liverpool to inflict punishment. At least Fulham will feel the situation is retrievable this time, in some respects their mission accomplished as a 2-1 loss keeps the tie alive.
“This was not about the silky-skilled, fluent Liverpool which propelled itself to the top of the Premier League. The latest comeback courtesy of Curtis Jones and Cody Gakpo is all about the re-establishing of Jurgen Klopp’s mentality monsters.
“For large parts of a game which increased in excitement, Klopp’s side lacked the class and the structure that has typified recent excellence. More than any other quality, it was their sheer bloody-mindedness which saw them cancel out Willian’s first half strike which means they take a slender advantage to London in a fortnight.”
‘Recent history repeated itself in the form of another Liverpool comeback’
Andy Hunter of the Guardian wrote: “Recent history repeated itself in the form of another Liverpool comeback against Fulham and more late pain for Marco Silva’s gallant team at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp’s side established a slender advantage in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final but both the victor and the vanquished know the tie is far from over.
“Willian struck the first blow for Fulham but, as in the Premier League meeting here, the visitors were unable to hold the lead in the face of a Liverpool barrage. Klopp’s team came from 3-2 down in the 87th minute to lead 4-3 in the 88th last time out. The comeback was not as late or dramatic here, but two goals in three minutes from Curtis Jones and the substitute Cody Gakpo once again transformed the complexion in Liverpool’s favour.
“Fulham had lost all five previous League Cup meetings with Liverpool but entered their first appearance in the semi-finals in confident form. And with a strong, settled lineup. Their ability to hurt Klopp’s team had been evident in the 4-3 defeat here last month and was demonstrated again when Silva’s side took the lead from their first meaningful attack. It came from a rare error by Virgil van Dijk, who missed the FA Cup third-round win at Arsenal on Sunday through illness and was left feeling pig-sick on his return to the team.
“Not for the first time, Klopp’s half-time team talk instigated a vast improvement in the Liverpool performance. The hosts attacked with far greater intensity and purpose in the second half. Fulham, having been increasingly comfortable as the first half wore on, found themselves besieged, albeit with several opportunities to hurt Liverpool on the break.”
‘Self-dubbed Mentality Monsters are back’
Lewis Steele of the Daily Mail wrote: “The theme of Liverpool’s season is much like an old movie you’ve seen dozens of times before, the sort that pops up every Saturday night on ITV2. You know what’s going to happen, the plot twist is no surprise, but you can’t help but watch it again and again.
“This was the 15th time this season Liverpool had gone 1-0 down and gone in at half-time with complaints of sloppiness in defence and a lack of creativity in attack. But like the ending to so many of those matches this term, the Reds came back to triumph.
“Liverpool had only lost three of those matches, two were meaningless Europa League games and the other was after a VAR shambles at Tottenham. Jurgen Klopp would be quick to deny that his self-dubbed Mentality Monsters are back – but it is hard to argue any more.”
‘The champagne remains on ice’
Paul Gorst on verdict duty for the ECHO, wrote: “When Jurgen Klopp assesses the season so far during some rare downtime in the coming days, the Liverpool manager might reflect on this as one of the most satisfying wins yet.
“After all, this 2-1 comeback victory over Fulham, in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final, has seen the Wembley arch appearing on the Reds’ horizon once more. And even more pleasing will be the fact it was achieved without so many of his key men at the very end of a punishing run that has seen them play 11 times in five weeks.
“Between December 3 and January 10, eleven fixtures across four competitions have all been negotiated to the point where Liverpool now stand as Premier League leaders with one foot in the final of the Carabao Cup and awaiting the identity of their fourth-round opponents in the FA Cup. Throw in a return to the last-16 stage of the Europa League in March and even the more pessimistic in the fanbase must surely be getting excited over what is to come here for the next few months.
“Klopp will be able to toast to a job well done when he and his backroom staff debrief over a coffee at the AXA Training Centre next week. Such has been the progress, in fact, that he might even make it a beer, even if the champagne remains on ice, for now.”
In other Liverpool news, Fulham Boss Marco Silva Makes Liverpool Claim After Carabao Cup Defeat at Anfield