Simon Mignolet saved two spot kicks as Liverpool scraped past Stoke City 6-5 on penalties after the League Cup semi-final ended 1-1 on aggregate over two legs.
- Liverpool 0 (1) Stoke 1 (1)
- Arnautovic draws Potters level
- Match decided by penalties
- Mignolet saves two
- Reds advance 6-5 on spot kicks
Liverpool’s slender one-goal advantage from the first leg of their League Cup semi-final was eroded in first half injury time when Marko Arnautovic slid the ball into the bottom right corner, seemingly from an offside position, but the goal stood.
Neither side was able to add to the score through the rest of the match or extra time and the tie was decided on penalties.
Mignolet, who recently signed a contract extension for Liverpool, starred for the home side, saving penalties from Peter Crouch and Marc Muniesa before Joe Allen sunk the winning spot kick to send the Reds to Wembley.
Despite playing at Anfield and having a one-goal advantage, Liverpool looked out of sorts early on against Stoke in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final on Tuesday night.
Jonathan Walters had a shot blocked in the 14th minute after some great play from Ibrahim Affelay and went close again when Erik Pieters played a delightful 60-yard pass over the Liverpool defence for Walters, but the striker’s first touch let him down and he fired wide.
Emre Can went close with two long-range shots in the 24th and 34th minutes but both went narrowly wide.
The Potters found a deserved goal to go 1-0 up in the tie and level the scores on aggregate after Bojan broke down the right before finding Arnautovic in the box and the Austrian made no mistake, but the goal should not have stood as he was in an offside position.
Liverpool went close to reclaiming their aggregate lead four minutes after half time, but Roberto Firmino’s powerful effort clattered off the post.
Moments later, James Milner and Walters came together in the Stoke box, but the referee waved away the Liverpool midfielder’s penalty appeals, much to the consternation of the home fans.
The Potters began to up the tempo in search of a winning goal, but two chances from Walters were blocked by some desperate defending form the hosts.
The Reds had a second penalty appeal turned down in the 85th minute when Pieters appeared to elbow Adam Lallana in the Stoke box, but the referee was having none of it and the match went to extra time.
Both sides created chances in the added 30 minutes, but neither was able to add to the score and the match was decided by a penalty shootout.
Both Walters and Lallana made no mistake with their side’s opening spot kicks, but Crouch’s low shot was denied by a fine save from Mignolet to hand Liverpool the advantage.
Can immediately handed the initiative back to the Potters when his shot hit the outside of the post and bounced away from goal.
Glen Whelan, Christian Benteke, Affelay. Firmino, Xherdan Shaqiri, Milner, Marco Van Ginkel and Lucas were all successful to bring the score to 5-5.
Mignolet once again stepped up for the home side as he denied Muniesa’s powerful penalty with a brilliant diving save and Allen sunk the winning goal for Liverpool to advance to the final of the League Cup.