written by Jamie McLaughlin website at www.anfieldnews.com
Liverpool’s recent tough fixture list continued with another trip to Stamford Bridge in less than a fortnight and only 50 hours after playing against Manchester City in a 1-1 draw. So as Liverpool continue in their quest to reach the new Wembley they are not going the easy route to get there with another away trip in this quarter final clash. But Liverpool go into the match with confidence high on a 10 match unbeaten run and buoyed by their recent defeat of their opponents just over a week ago.
Dalglish made 7 changes to the team that faced Manchester City on Sunday with Bellamy, Carragher, Coates, Kelly, Spearing, Maxi and Carroll returning to the side. Enrique, Reina, Lucas and Henderson being the only players that started on Sunday. Former Liverpool favourite Torres started for Chelsea.
Liverpool had an early scare when Luiz was upended by a challenge from Coates inside the penalty area, but referee Phil Dowd showed a yellow card to the Chelsea defender for diving. At the other end Andy Carroll fell under a challenge from David Luiz but again no penalty was awarded.
The game was turning out to be a very tight affair with not many chances in a keenly fought midfield battle. Then in the 22nd minute Alex handled an Enrique cross giving Liverpool a penalty and a great chance to take the lead. Andy Carroll took the spot kick straight down the middle but it was well saved by goalkeeper Ross Turnbull.
Not many chances were created during the rest of the first half as the midfield battle raged on, but Chelsea almost scored in stoppage time but Lukaku headed just wide from a Bosingwa cross.
Liverpool started the second half brightly and were looking dangerous on the counter attack. Bellamy curled an effort just over in one of these dangerous attacks. Chelsea almost took the lead in the 55th minute when a Ramires looping header came off the crossbar, Coates cleared off the goal line as Luiz looked to pounce.
Then Liverpool took the lead in the 58th minute when Henderson’s defence splitting pass sent Bellamy racing down the right and his low pass left Maxi with the simple task of tapping into the goal from close range sending the visiting supporters wild in celebration.
Just 4 minutes later Liverpool doubled their lead when a dangerous Bellamy free-kick was headed into the net by Martin Kelly who found himself unmarked in the penalty area. It was Kelly’s first goal for Liverpool and what an important one.
Chelsea seemed disheartened after this second goal and they struggled to respond as Liverpool were rarely threatened by the Chelsea attacks. A Torres header which was well saved by Reina and a chance for substitute Anelka were the best of their chances as Liverpool cruised into the semi-final of the Carling Cup. The only bad news of the night was the injury to Lucas who was stretchered off with 20 minutes remaining.
A superb performance by Liverpool, especially with so many changes to the side which could have made it difficult with so many players not featuring in the first team often this season. Liverpool did get lucky at the start when Chelsea were denied a stone wall penalty when Coates brought down Luiz. I thought we had missed our chance when Carroll missed the penalty, so it was great to see the miss not affect the players. The defence played superbly with Carragher and Coates immense after that early slip. Kelly was superb down the right and great to see him get his first goal for the club. Spearing and Henderson and Lucas worked their socks off in midfield, but sorry to see Lucas being stretchered off in what looks a bad injury. Bellamy was very lively and caused the Chelsea defence all sorts of problems. Andy Carroll never let his penalty miss get to him as he never hid and worked so hard for the team. A great result for Liverpool with a semi-final to look forward to in the new year against Manchester City.