Liverpool have two unsung heroes as Reds survive Fulham scare to reach Carabao Cup final | Football | Sport

Liverpool successfully booked a Carabao Cup final meeting with Chelsea despite being held to a draw by Fulham in the second leg of their last-four showdown. The Reds were already 2-1 up on aggregate thanks to last week’s victory at Anfield, which proved to be the difference after Luis Diaz’s early opener was cancelled out by Issa Diop in the second half.

Express Sport takes a look at the biggest talking points from tonight’s game at Craven Cottage…

Quansah excels at the back

Jarell Quansah has taken to life in Liverpool’s first team like a duck to water and was arguably the best player on the pitch against Fulham. The youngster did not put a foot wrong as he and Virgil van Dijk kept Fulham’s attackers at bay for large parts of the match, apart from a nervy closing spell after Diop’s late equaliser.

Quansah also had a major say at the top end of the pitch, assisting Diaz’s goal with a pinpoint long-range pass from his own half. He now has more goal contributions than any other Liverpool centre-back this season and is quickly establishing himself as a key player for Jurgen Klopp, who will certainly be delighted with his latest influential display.

Van Dijk back to his best

Van Dijk did not cover himself in glory in the first leg against Fulham last week but looked much more like his usual self at the second time of asking. He produced a real captain’s performance at the heart of Liverpool’s back line, helping to start attacks with his consistently accurate passing and keeping things tight when required to perform his defensive duties.

The Dutchman made it look too easy at times, putting all of his expertise to good use to drive his team into the Carabao Cup final. He will continue to be Liverpool’s most important asset he can stay firing on all cylinders for the rest of the season, with the Merseyside giants still in with a chance of winning the Premier League, Champions League and both domestic cups.

Chances hard to come by

Liverpool dominated proceedings for large parts of the contest but still failed to create as many chances as they would have liked. They did not have any real first-half opportunities of note after Diaz had opened the scoring, while Darwin Nunez went closest after the break with a fizzing effort that whistled wide of the post.

The visitors have struggled in the creativity department on too many occasions as of late and it ended up costing them victory on the night, with Diop’s late leveller ensuring that Fulham came away with a draw. However, their lack of punch in the final third did not come back to bite them too badly, with the aggregate scoreline falling in Liverpool’s favour.

Tough going at the end

Liverpool found themselves under the cosh in the final 10 minutes at Craven Cottage as Fulham pressed for a second goal that would have forced the match into extra time. The hosts poured bodies forward at every opportunity but Liverpool held firm to safely protect their narrow one-goal aggregate lead.

The Reds managed the game well as the clock ticked down, attempting to slow Fulham’s momentum at every opportunity and steering clear of any defensive mishaps. It certainly got a bit nervy for the visitors at times, but they showed plenty of steel when it mattered to get themselves across the line.

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