A vision of the future for Chelsea, perhaps, amid a sight we’ve never seen before, as Liverpool make a bit more history. Jurgen Klopp wins his first domestic cup to go with the Premier League – and the club’s ninth League Cup to again become the most successful side in the competition.
They won 11-10 on penalties after a 0-0 draw where the only failure of a kick, lamentably, was poor Kepa Arrizabalaga.
That is nothing new, but comes at particularly inopportune timing given the announcement on the eve of the game that Roman Abramovich was “giving trustees of Chelsea’s charitable Foundation the stewardship and care” of the club.
Given some of the commentary around the decision, maybe something has changed? Maybe they should get used to not winning.
Football should perhaps get used to the name of Caoimhin Kelleher. He, like Kepa, didn’t get close to one penalty but he did make several superb saves on the day and then scored Liverpool’s own final decisive kick.
The celebration from Alisson said so much. The entire occasion had so much emotion to it.
It was impossible to separate the game from current events in Ukraine, especially with the direct effect it has had on Chelsea, but it was thankfully also one of those matches that was so enthralling it temporarily made you forget everything else.
This is what life is supposed to be about. When has that ever been said about the League Cup?
The only thing missing was a goal, but then four were disallowed, Chelsea with three.
On another day, in more innocent times, this could have been purely about the goalkeepers.
They did frame much of the actual football – even more than VAR.
Klopp stuck by his League Cup goalkeeper, Tuchel dropped his, before bringing him on for that final last moment. Most of the decisions were vindicated by their decision. Both goalkeeper’s made world-class saves in the opening half. For the first, after just two minutes, Christian Pulisic was perfectly set up to make it 1-0 from just yards out. Kelleher stood however his ground and made the stop.
Edouard Mendy was much more active for the second big moment, getting down superbly a second time to somehow keep out national teammate Sadio Mane. It seemed harder for the forward not to score. And yet Mendy still pulled off the impossible.
Worse misses were still possible, at least.
Mason Mount was responsible for two of them. Tuchel could scarcely believe. Kelleher could scarcely believe his luck.
The Corkman could really do nothing but stand there this time, as Kai Havertz teed up Mount beautifully, only for the midfielder to send it wide. He actually got closer to the next, but for an easier chance, in what was a worse miss.
With Liverpool players seemingly distracted after another remonstration with referee Stuart Atwell, Mount was left clear on goal to just slot it past Keller. He did that, but only hit the post. It was not his day.
It just wasn’t a day where Liverpool’s attack where at their most accurate either. Salah was put through for maybe the chance of the match, and this was one where you really would have banked on him scoring.
Opting to delicately lift the ball to the side of Mendy when any kind of finish would have done, the Egyptian just screwed the effort wide. Even Thiago Silva’s desperate dive to clear the ball didn’t seem that necessary.
The two teams then shared disallowed goals, and more hectic goalmouth scrambles, as the match developed into a thrillingly frenetic occasion.
This is why, for the moment, these are two of the top three or four teams in Europe. They showed it in every facet, bar the finishing. That wasn’t all down to miss, though.
There were moments when it seemed inconceivable that the ball couldn’t go in. The reason was the two goalkeepers.
One Virgil van Dijk header seemed certain to fly in, but Mendy got down, Chelsea desperately hacking away the loose ball.
The goalkeepers remained center stage, although one of the actors changed. They mostly ended up bystanders, until those last two kicks.
Kelleher scored and Kepa, brought on for his penalty record, skied his. It was something that the competition hadn’t seen before.
Liverpool have of course seen plenty of trophies lifted. The bigger question, however, is whether Chelsea will have to get use to not lifting them so much.