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“This is Klopp’s Liverpool” – Media hail “extraordinary” comeback over Leicester

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The watching media were left stunned by a riveting League Cup quarter-final clash between Liverpool and Leicester, as the Reds prevailed in dramatic fashion.

What is it with this club and drama?

Liverpool produced another great Anfield night on Wednesday, progressing to the semi-finals after a penalty shootout win over the Foxes.

That only tells half of the story, though, as the Reds recovered from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits, taking the game to spot-kicks after Takumi Minamino‘s last-gasp equaliser made it 3-3.

Here’s a look at how the media reacted to Liverpool’s victory.

 

An incredible game was lauded by the masses…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 22, 2021: Liverpool's players celebrate with Diogo Jota celebrates after scoring the decisive penalty in the shoot-out after the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Goal‘s Neil Jones was in no doubt that this is a competition to treasure:

“Who says Jurgen Klopp doesn’t care about this competition? The Reds boss’ relationship with the League Cup has been mixed, but his celebrations at the end, those familiar fist pumps in front of the Kop and the megawatt smile, told their own story. This meant something. This felt good.

[…]

“It should be tasty when these sides meet again in the Premier League on Tuesday. This will have hurt Leicester, and in particular their manager. Brendan Rodgers, who knows better than anyone that you are never safe at Anfield.

“Liverpool march on, to a semi-final meeting with Arsenal next month. Unexpected, perhaps, but welcome nonetheless.

“Who doesn’t love the Carabao Cup eh?”

Chris Bascombe of the Telegraph was similarly in awe of a special occasion:

“For once, Jurgen Klopp will be ecstatic to have a hectic January.

“Even by Liverpool’s standards during the Klopp era, this was one of the more extraordinary comeback victories. They secured their Carabao Cup semi-final spot in a penalty shoot-out over Leicester City. That barely tells the story.

[…]

“If this is one of the last games before we go back into lockdown, it is typical of this stadium to bow out in style.”

Samuel Meade of the Mirror felt there was an “inevitability” about Liverpool’s second-half comeback:

“There’s something about Liverpool chasing down a lead in front of Anfield under the lights. Whether it is Barcelona in 2019 or Leicester City in 2021, the air of inevitability appears the same.

“The Reds have themselves a mountain to climb a half-time, needing two goals to force the game beyond 90 minutes.

“True to form though, they dominated the second 45 minutes with the Anfield crowd continuing to provide a tune that roared their team on.

“A much-changed side without many of the club’s big hitters still fed off the atmosphere and Jota’s strike meant they had real hope.

“And then, right on cue, with stoppage time winding down, Minamino finished past Kasper Schmeichel to take us to penalties, where the Reds completed the job.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 22, 2021: Liverpool's Diogo Jota celebrates after scoring the decisive penalty in the shoot-out after the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mail‘s Ian Ladyman thought it was match that embodied “Klopp’s Liverpool”:

“On the touchline, Jurgen Klopp must have loved this.

“The Liverpool manager has been vocal about the challenges presented by a demandingly relentless fixture schedule.

“For this game – so far down his list of priorities he will have struggled to locate it – Klopp selected a team that was to some degree there to be beaten. A debutant at centre half. A young full-back on the right wing. Half a dozen superstars left at home.

“But as he watched his side reel in Leicester by sheer force of will in the second half before downing them in a penalty shoot-out, Klopp will taken just as much satisfaction as he would from just about anything else this season.

“For this is the culture he has created. Do not lie down. Do not lose. This is a club with his name written right through it. This is Klopp’s Liverpool.”

The Anfield Wrap‘s Neil Atkinson revelled in the joys of the “worst timed game in history,” and took aim at Leicester fans who spent 90 minutes singing about poverty:

“The worst timed game in history, the League Cup quarter final with Christmas on the horizon, with a to-do list long as your arm, with a pandemic banging on, becomes a reminder of all that is good about this thing of ours. The ghost of big games past, big games present and big games yet to come.

“They just delight you.

[…]

“Feed The Scousers, by the way? We feast tonight on your broken dreams you absolute frigging ghouls. Enjoy the trip back to Leicester where the streets are paved with gold.”

 

Klopp’s half-time changes made all the difference…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 22, 2021: Liverpool's Diogo Jota celebrates after scoring the decisive penalty in the shoot-out after the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This Is Anfield praised the decision to swiftly bring on senior players:

“No messing about at the break from the boss. The three least-experienced players off, three seniors on, one in each line of the team: Milner, Jota and Konate for Bradley, Koumetio and Morton.

“The difference was twofold: better positional and passing work from Liverpool, but also Leicester quite visibly bricking it once we started to play at speed and the Anfield roar cranked up.

“For about 10 minutes before Jota’s goal went in it was an absolute wall of noise behind the goal and another of red pressure in front of it, with Ox, Keita (what a penalty!), Firmino and Jota all non-stop involved in winning the ball, using the ball.

“The constant crying from the Foxes over every marginally questionable decision from that point on only highlighted their wilting and weary nature, and beautifully led to no fewer than six minutes added on.

“Taki’s goal time? About five minutes and 10 seconds past the 90.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 22, 2021: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson is replaced by substitute Naby Keita during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ladyman said the half-time alterations ruthlessly exposed a Leicester side picking up injuries and running out of steam:

“Klopp sent on the cavalry – well, some of it – at half-time and then Leicester lost players to injury. Caglar Soyuncu was injured tackling Firmino while Ricardo Pereira also went off. Rodgers shuffled to a back three and took Dewsbury-Hall off to help with that. At a stroke, Leicester’s impetus was gone and from then on it was all Liverpool.

“Jota scored from Minamino’s pass in the 67th minute only for Leicester to hang on heroically. Kasper Schmeichel saved astonishingly from Naby Keita’s deflected drive only to be beaten at the death after Wilfried Ndidi – playing as an emergency centre half all night – misjudged a Milner cross to afford Minamino some space he did not waste.

“For sure, Leicester’s injury problems cut them off at their knees here. Not all teams would have taken advantage, though. Liverpool, whoever wears the shirt, rarely need asking twice.”

 

A couple of Liverpool players received special attention…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 22, 2021: Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jones heaped praise on both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita, both of whom were superb:

“Oxlade-Chamberlain stood out, bristling with energy and intent, determined to take responsibility whenever possible. He took his goal superbly, passed the ball well and with purpose, and can be happy with his night’s work.

“So too Roberto Firmino, who got through 90 minutes for the first time in nearly two months and Naby Keita, a second-half substitute for Jordan Henderson. The Guinea international was outstanding, driving with the ball, linking the play and providing one of the moments of the night with a nutmeg on the increasingly-frustrated Maddison.

“Good signs, indeed, for Klopp, who needs as many players firing as possible as the fixtures pile up and the presence of coronavirus continues to loom large.

“In this kind of form, Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain represent a perfect Christmas present.”

TIA hailed a brilliant Oxlade-Chamberlain performance, keeping up his good recent form:

“One man was repeatedly driving the Reds forward at 0-0, 1-0, 2-0. He was in midfield, but he wasn’t wearing the armband – it was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

“He was in great form not too long ago and can probably feel hard done by to have been taken out of the league XI, but here he was again, proactive, effective in the final third and aggressive in his ball-winning.

“Second half he started off with a bursting run into the area at one end, then a double tackle and interception in his own box to stop a dangerous attack.

“Another control and pass in the leadup to Firmino’s chance was excellent, a shot from the edge of the box went close and a dribble past four inside the area was to push the Reds’ attempts for an equaliser.

“Scored a good pen, too. He was the best player on the park in red once again.”

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