Capital One Cup Final 2022
With each passing year, many things change, but one that doesn't is Liverpool's continued presence in the Capital One Cup Final. The Reds are contesting their eighth Final in as many years, and have only lost once in said period, namely against Merseyside rivals Everton in 2016.
Their opponents this time around will be Stoke City, in their second Capital One Cup Final in three seasons. The Potters will be attempting to avenge their previous defeat from 2020, when Richairo Zivkovic, Raheem Sterling, and David Alaba struck to crush the Stoke-on-Trent side's dreams of cup glory.
Since then, Stoke as a team has undergone a multitude of changes. Gino Peruzzi and Ryan Bertrand, two players possessing winning mentalities from their times with Napoli and Chelsea respectively, have arrived to beef up the defensive line.
Wilfried Zaha joined the club last season from Blackburn and proved to be an uninspiring buy, that is, until he hit the ground running this year, and is currently Stoke's top scorer this season. Another noteworthy purchase has been ex-Arsenal youth team player Dan Crowley on a free transfer, perhaps one of the biggest bargains of all time considering his performances for Stoke has propelled him into the England squad.
Liverpool, on the other hand, have maintained stability with only one bank-breaking transfer since their last Capital One Cup run-in with Stoke, that being Israel's £35 million move from Atalanta, but Rodgers' assembled champions are not to be trifled with and their opponents will still require a miracle if they are to pull off an upset of any sort.
Stoke entered the competition with comfortable wins against Cardiff and Blackburn, but faced stiff opposition in the Fourth Round, where fellow Premier League high flyers Watford held them to nothing more than a 1-0 victory. Ryan Bertrand's 86th minute penalty in the Quarter Finals versus Leicester City sent the Foxes packing by a narrow 2-1 scoreline. A fairly evenly-contested Semi Finals against Newcastle was to follow as the two teams could only be separated by penalty shootouts. Henri Saviet's missed penalty eventually knocked the Toon out and sealed Stoke's return to Wembley.
: Begovic; Peruzzi, Ekstrand, Fryers, Bertrand; Zaha, Crowley, McGinn, Ivkovic, Rush; Wilson
: Smith, Coleman, Mahoney, Cleverley, Ubovic, Ngoy, Waris
Stoke fans will be dismayed to see that club skipper Ryan Shawcross is not in the starting lineup today. In fact, the Potters captain of more than ten years does not even make the bench as Pearson makes the extraordinary decision to exclude him entirely. His replacement at center-half, Zeki Fryers, has made less than 10 appearances in the Premier League this season, whereas Shawcross has started every game. That is not the only peculiar sight though, as in-form striker Majeed Waris has also been benched in favor of James Wilson. Aside from the aforementioned two, Pearson has not held back in starting his best players in other areas, and all eyes will be on Stoke's talent-packed midfield, containing the likes of Dan Crowley, Wilfried Zaha, and Slobodan Ivkovic.
Liverpool did not enjoy the most ideal of starts to their campaign, an unimpressive 3-2 win over League One club Southend United. In the Fourth Round, Tottenham fought well to frustrate the Reds but a penalty from Pavel Savitskiy knocked the Londoners out of the competition. A surprising challenger in the Quarter Finals came in the form of Preston North End, but they were quickly disposed of, as were Hull City in a massive 12-0 crushing over two legs.
: Costantini; Joseph, Jang, Umtiti, Alaba; Romero, Ward-Prowse, Savitskiy; Balotelli, Coutinho; Zivkovic
: Rulli, Clyne, Turan, Aubry, Henderson, Moreyra, Sterling
Rodgers has decided to keep faith with Pierre-Francois Costantini, who has yet to miss a Capital One Cup fixture this season. Meanwhile, an injury to Eder Alvarez Balanta will see South Korean defender Jang Young-Hun partnering Samuel Umtiti at the back, no doubt an unusual selection since Kyriakos Papadopoulos is available. Israel, still yet to recover from a twisted knee, also misses the game. The forward's dangerous presence up front will be not be missed too much though, with Mario Balotelli, Philippe Coutinho, and Richairo Zivkovic leading the charge on Stoke's goal.
0' - Dan Crowley and James Wilson kick off the afternoon, as Stoke and Liverpool go head to head in the 2022 Capital One Cup Final!
11' - And Liverpool are already on the offensive. Richairo Zivkovic's header finds the looming Pavel Savitskiy, and Asmir Begovic just manages to keep the Belarusian's effort off the line, and the ball is quickly cleared by Joel Ekstrand.
26' - A fierce shot from Mario Balotelli looks destined for the net but Begovic's lightning fast reflexes allows him to parry it.
28' - Wilson receives a great ball from Crowley, and the former Manchester United man displays a show of skill in darting past the helpless Samuel Umtiti to fire away at Pierre-Francois Costantini. However, the French goalkeeper pulls off an athletic save to deny him.
45' - HT Stoke 0-0 Liverpool: Liverpool are dominating possession, but a resilient Stoke City are simply not allowing them to find the opening that they need. Will things change in the second half?
45' - The two teams are back out for the next 45 minutes, and Liverpool kick off.
51' - Another excellent save coming from Begovic as Stoke's captain for the day keeps out a cracking effort from Lucas Romero.
Asmir Begovic pulls off another save to keep his side in the game
56' - Balotelli's curling free kick almost gives Liverpool the breakthrough that they need but it is Begovic who comes to Stoke's rescue once again.
57' - And in less than another minute, Begovic has another save to make, as Umtiti dispossesses Wilson to knock the ball up for his teammates. Superb passing play results in Philippe Coutinho going for glory, but Stoke's big Bosnian makes a giant leap into the air to catch the ball.
62' - GOAL!.... or not! James Ward-Prowse's accurate free kick beats Begovic but rattles the crossbar. Zivkovic immediately latches onto it to smash the ball into the open net, but the linesman says it's offside! Liverpool's players are not happy!
Richairo Zivkovic scores from a James Ward-Prowse free kick but he is ruled offside
90' - FT Stoke 0-0 Liverpool: Stoke are standing strong! With Liverpool still unable to find the goal that they need after 90 minutes, could an upset be possible after all?
90' - We kick off the first half of extra time!
91' - GOAL! Finally! There it is! An exchange of passes between Alejandro Moreyra and Jordan Henderson results in Moreyra finding Savitskiy in the area with a low pass, and Begovic is finally beaten by the left winger's long-range strike. Liverpool are 1-0 up!
104' - For the second time today, a Liverpool player's free kick hits the post. Moreyra almost extends his side's lead but it is not to be as Zeki Fryers puts the ball into row Z.
Liverpool captain Ward-Prowse reacts in delight as Pavel Savitskiy breaks the deadlock
105' - HT in ET Stoke 0-1 Liverpool. After 91 long minutes, the first goal of the match is finally here. Can Stoke mount a fightback or is this game Liverpool's to claim?
120' - GOAL! No way back for Stoke now! Connor Mahoney's mistake ends in disaster after the winger loses possession, giving way to a build-up that sees Savitskiy and Moreyra exchanging the ball between one another. The latter is swiftly played through into Begovic's sights, and try as he might, the Stoke goalie is unable to replicate his heroics from earlier. That should be it!
120' - FT in ET Stoke 0-2 Liverpool. It took awhile and Stoke definitely went down fighting, but Liverpool will be lifting their 15th League Cup trophy thanks to late goals from the amazing Savitskiy and super sub Moreyra. What a game!