Why Luis Diaz was the right Man of the Match as Liverpool break 23-year-old record

Liverpool did exactly what was asked of them to secure a place in the Carabao Cup final, and Jurgen Klopp did not withhold any praise after the 1-1 draw at Fulham.

For the third time under Jurgen Klopp, the Reds have a date with Wembley and a shot at the League Cup in February – not bad for Liverpool 2.0 to reach the first final so early!

The manager was in a buoyant mood after the match at Craven Cottage – just like the rest of us – and he served up praise for the likes of Joe Gomez, Luis Diaz, Jarell Quansah and Darwin Nunez.

Liverpool’s only goalscorer was crowned Man of the Match by Sky Sports and Klopp eulogised over his No. 7, saying: “What a boy! The speed, the power he can generate, the technique, the combination of all that is absolutely outstanding.”

Diaz could have sealed a win for the Reds, but it does not take the sine off a performance that saw him earn a 8.4-out-of-10 rating from FotMob – the highest of any player.

With nine duels won, two successful dribbles from two attempts, six touches in the opposition box – a game high – three chances created and six recoveries, Diaz contributed to both sides of the game.

He is back and firing.


Colossal at the back

A backline of Conor Bradley, Quansah, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez would never have been predicted at the start of the season, but here they were, helping to secure a place in the final.

Against Fulham, we saw Quansah notch an assist, plus make a joint-high seven recoveries and seven clearances, the latter he shared with Van Dijk.

The captain made 12 passes into the final third – the most of any player – while Bradley and Quansah between them created three chances – the kind of dual-threat Liverpool need from the back.

Van Dijk also made more accurate passes than anyone else (58) and had the most touches of any Red (83), though Bradley (78) and Quansah (76) and Gomez (71) were not far behind!

It was not quite their night for accurate long balls with just nine successful out of a combined 26 attempts, but we’ll put that down to the wind!


The future is bright

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 24, 2024: Liverpool's Harvey Elliott during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is something we have been saying with increasing frequency throughout the season, but it is for good reason.

Liverpool’s young players have seized every chance they have had so far, and it was no different on one of the biggest stages, in a cup semi-final with a Liverbird upon their chest.

Against Fulham, five Reds aged 21 or under featured in some capacity: Quansah, Bradley, Gravenberch, Harvey Elliott and Bobby Clark (as a sub) – together the starters averaged a rating of 7.3 out of 10, only four Reds finished with a higher score.

It must be said, Gravenberch was much improved with seven duels won, two chances created, four interceptions and he was never dispossessed, as per FotMob.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 24, 2024: Liverpool's Ryan Gravenberch during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And let’s not forget there was also Owen Beck (21), James McConnell (19) and Trey Nyoni (16) on the bench.

As per Opta‘s Michael Reid, Klopp’s starting XI had an average age of 24 years, 194 days – the club’s youngest for a major semi-final since 2000/01 in the same competition.

The kids are alright!

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