From 4 in a row to penalty misses – Liverpool’s 12 previous League Cup finals

As Liverpool prepare to face Chelsea in the League Cup final, we take a trip down memory lane and recall their previous successes and failures in the showcase event.

The Reds are back in the final this weekend, taking part in the prestigious event for the first time in six years.

Jurgen Klopp‘s men are the favourites to lift the trophy on Sunday afternoon, on what promises to be a memorable day at Wembley.

This is Liverpool’s 13th appearance in a League Cup final – here’s a look back at how they fared in the previous 12.


Liverpool 0-1 Nottingham Forest (replay) – 1978

Steve Heighway, Wembley, March 1978 (All Action/EMPICS Entertainment)

After a goalless draw in the initial clash, Liverpool were defeated by Brian Clough’s legendary Nottingham Forest side in the replay.

Back in the 1970s, extra time and penalties weren’t even a thing in the competition.

The second meeting was decided by a John Robertson penalty early in the second half, but Liverpool would be crowned European Cup winners a couple of months later.

Not a bad consolation!


Liverpool 2-1 West Ham (replay) – 1981

Alan Hansen, Liverpool, 1980 (Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport)

This is when Liverpool’s dominance in the League Cup really started.

The Reds and West Ham were forced to reconvene in a replay in 1981, with Villa Park hosting the match after a 1-1 draw at Wembley.

Having fallen behind to a Paul Goddard opener, Bob Paisley‘s side turned the game on its head, as Sir Kenny Dalglish equalised and Alan Hansen bagged a scrappy winner.

It was one of only 14 goals the legendary centre-back scored in 620 Liverpool appearances.


Liverpool 3-1 Tottenham – 1982

Bob Paisley at Anfield after taking over as Liverpool manager following the resignation of Bill Shankly. 26th July 1974. (PA / Alamy)

Twelve months later, Paisley’s men were at it again, during what remains one of the most trophy-laden periods in Reds history.

Liverpool had to do it the hard way, however, with Steve Archibald’s early strike threatening to cause a Wembley upset.

Ronnie Whelan levelled the scores in the 87th minute, and from that point on, the European champions at the time showed their superiority.

Whelan again found the net in extra time and Ian Rush scored one of his customary cup final goals to seal the win.


Liverpool 2-1 Man United – 1983

Delighted Liverpool players (from left) Graham Souness, Kenny Dalglish and Alan Hansen celebrate with the Milk Cup trophy after they defeated Manchester United 2-1 in extra time at Wembley. It was Liverpool's third successive triumph in the competition, giving manager Bob Paisley a winning farewell to Wembley etires at the end of the season.

Nothing beats downing Man United in a cup final and Liverpool did exactly that in 1983, clinching a third League Cup crown in a row.

Surprise, surprise, it was United who opened the scoring through Norman Whiteside – the Reds didn’t make it easy for themselves!

Alan Kennedy equalised from distance, less than two years after his European Cup-final winner against Real Madrid, and Whelan curled in a beauty to win it in extra time.

Much like Jordan Henderson, Whelan had his detractors, but his contribution to the club was immense, never more so than this day.


Liverpool 1-0 Everton (replay) – 1984

Graeme Souness, Liverpool, away kit, 1982 (Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport)

Not content with seeing off United in the final, next up it was time to beat Everton in the showcase event a year later.

After a drab goalless draw in the initial match, it was left to Graeme Souness to win Liverpool a fourth successive League Cup.

A colossal leader and footballer, the Scot buried a fierce strike from distance at Maine Road, earning the red half of Merseyside bragging rights.

Great players produce in the biggest moments and Souness was certainly that.


Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal – 1987

Ian Rush, 1987 :(Alamy / Action Images)

After years of glory in the competition, the 1987 League Cup final was one to forget for a Liverpool team now managed by Dalglish.

This was Arsenal‘s day in the sun, as they responded to Rush’s opener to stun the Reds, thanks to two goals from Charlie Nicholas.

Ironically, he had been strongly linked with a move to Anfield before he joined the Gunners, with some seeing him as a perfect replacement for Dalglish.

He didn’t hit the heights many expected of him, however, and he is now remembered more as a former pundit on Soccer Saturday.


Liverpool 2-1 Bolton – 1995

Coca Cola Cup Final. Liverpool v Bolton. Steve McManaman with the trophy (Picture by Tony Marshall EMPICS Sport)

The 1990s were a grim period in Liverpool’s history, summed up by the fact that this 1995 League Cup win was about as good as it got during the decade.

Roy Evans’ side edged past a Bolton outfit plying its trade in Division One, with one person to thank for the victory.

In Steve McManaman, Liverpool had a mercurial talent who produced a magical attacking performance, with both of the Reds’ goals effortless solo strikes from the midfielder.

He remains one of the most underrated players in decades – and would be sensational in Klopp’s current setup.


Liverpool 1-1 Birmingham (5-4 on pens) – 2001

Robbie Fowler holds up the Worthington Cup after his side beat Birmingham City following a penalty shoot-out in the Final, at the Millennium Stadium, in Cardiff. 25-Feb-2001 (Picture by David Jones PA Archive/PA Images)

The 2000/01 season was one of the great campaigns at Anfield, as three cups were won and Champions League football was achieved for the first time ever.

It all started with this nervy penalty shootout win over second-tier Birmingham, back when finals were hosted at Cardiff’s magnificent Millennium Stadium.

Robbie Fowler’s stunner was cancelled out by Darren Purse’s last-gasp spot-kick in normal time, but Liverpool still prevailed in the end.

Jamie Carragher’s inch-perfect penalty meant Andy Johnson had to score, but Sander Westerveld thwarted him to secure the trophy.


Liverpool 2-0 Man United – 2003

CARDIFF, WALES - Sunday, March 2, 2003: Liverpool's goalscorers Michael Owen (l) and Steven Gerrard celebrate beating Manchester United 2-0 during the Football League Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Twenty years on from the aforementioned win over United in 1983, Liverpool were at it again.

Alex Ferguson’s side were the favourites, but Gerard Houllier’s team had a strong record against them during that period.

In truth, United dominated the game – Jerzy Dudek had a blinder between the sticks – but Steven Gerrard‘s deflected effort and Michael Owen’s breakaway goal got Liverpool over the line.

The sight of Roy Keane chasing back and desperately lunging in on Owen to no avail remains a glorious image to this day.


Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool – 2005

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND. TUESDAY, MAY 3rd, 2005: Liverpool's manager Rafael Benitez and Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final 2nd Leg at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The rivalry between Liverpool and Chelsea in the mid-2000s was the definition of intense – in many ways, this game sparked it.

It was a depressing afternoon for the Reds, who took the lead in the first minute through John Arne Riise but eventually lost 3-2 after extra time.

Gerrard’s own goal; Jose Mourinho shushing the Liverpool fans; final heartache against oil money. It was a horrible experience all round.

Fortunately, the Reds had their revenge in the Champions League semi-final a few months later.


Liverpool 2-2 Cardiff (3-2 on pens) – 2012

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates with the Carling Cup Trophy

Frighteningly, it is now 10 years since Liverpool tasted League Cup glory – or a domestic cup of any kind, in fact.

The 2012 victory over Championship side Cardiff wasn’t one for the ages, but Dalglish’s side got over the line in unconvincing fashion.

A 2-2 draw saw penalties required to separate the two teams, and despite Charlie Adam’s abysmal spot-kick, Gerrard’s cousin, Anthony, missed the decisive effort for the Bluebirds.

Rumour has it that the ball struck by Adam’s left foot is still travelling to this day!


Liverpool 1-1 Man City (1-3 on pens) – 2016

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 28, 2016: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson looks dejected after losing on penalties against Manchester City during the Football League Cup Final match at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s most recent League Cup final came back in 2016, as penalties failed to go in their favour.

The rivalry with City at that point isn’t what it is today, but there was still an edge to an exciting encounter at Wembley.

Fernandinho profited from some questionable Simon Mignolet goalkeeping to give City the lead, but Philippe Coutinho buried a finish to take the match to extra time and penalties.

Liverpool didn’t cover themselves in glory in the shootout, losing 3-1, with Emre Can the only player to score and Lucas Leiva, Coutinho and Adam Lallana all failing to convert.

Here’s hoping things go better this weekend…