Report and free match highlights from the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium as Diogo Jota fired Jurgen Klopp's Reds into the final at Wembley.
Friday 21 January 2022 06:00, UK
Diogo Jota fired Liverpool into the final of the Carabao Cup as they beat Arsenal 2-0 on aggregate.
Arsenal had held on for a resilient goalless draw with 10 men in the first leg seven days ago, but Diogo Jota broke their resistance on 19 minutes at the Emirates Stadium, and added a second with 13 minutes to go to seal the victory.
The Gunners saw another player dismissed as Thomas Partey, back early from the Africa Cup of Nations after Ghana's surprise exit, was sent off in the 90th minute for two bookings having only come on as a substitute 16 minutes earlier.
Liverpool will face Chelsea in the final at Wembley on Sunday, February 27, with Jurgen Klopp one step closer to a first domestic cup trophy with the club.
Arsenal started brilliantly - with Alexandre Lacazette hitting the crossbar from an early free-kick - but a warning shot from Liverpool changed the course of the game. Joel Matip was alert to poke in from Fabinho's header on a corner, but was flagged offside.
It seemed to make Arsenal a little jittery, and six minutes later Jota brilliantly took advantage as he picked up a pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold before cutting inside Takehiro Tomiyasu and Ben White, then finding the bottom corner with a slightly scuffed finish past the stretched arm of Aaron Ramsdale.
And with 13 minutes to go it was Jota again who sealed the game. Alexander-Arnold was the man with the pass again as he lifted one over the top into his run, and the Portuguese forward raced through to dink over Ramsdale. Initially flagged offside, the goal was eventually given by VAR.
Jamie Redknapp on Sky Sports Football:
"He is such an intelligent footballer. There's a lot of elements to his game that we like, but he even knew - he looked across the line and he knew he wasn't offside. He's aware, he can see along the line, he made his run perfectly.
"I was so impressed with his game today. He looked like a man who thought 'I'm going to show what I'm capable of'. It was his time. He started the game well and it makes the difference. Everything he did today was magnificent."
Arsenal: Ramsdale (5), Tomiyasu (4), White (5), Gabriel (6), Tierney (6), Lokonga (6), Odegaard (6), Saka (5), Smith Rowe (6), Martinelli (7), Lacazette (5)
Subs used: Partey (2), Nketiah (5)
Liverpool: Kelleher (7), Alexander-Arnold (9), Matip (4), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (8), Fabinho (7), Henderson (7), Jones (7), Gordon (6), Jota (9), Firmino (6)
Subs used: Konate (6), Milner (6), Minamino (5), Williams (n/a)
Man of the match: Diogo Jota
It was a couple of days to forget for Partey. After Ghana had crashed out of AFCON, the midfielder was rushed back by Arsenal and, despite only landing back in London at 12pm on the day of the game, was named on the bench by Mikel Arteta.
Introduced in the second half by Mikel Arteta in a bid to salvage the game, Partey instead picked up two quick yellow cards, leading to an early bath. It was the third time in four games Arsenal have finished with 10 men.
Paul Merson on Sky Sports Football:
"It's definitely fatigue. He's been on a long flight, even if you're in first class. They're lazy, late tackles. I thought it was a big ask for him to come on. The game was virtually finished and sometimes you've got to have a bit more game management about you. There's got to be a bit more common sense, like 'I can't dive in there'. He's never getting the ball in a month of Sunday's.
"When you're on the pitch and the manager puts you on and you say you're okay, you've got to make good decisions. Arsenal are not a physical team but they're blowing everyone away with the red cards. I didn't get the substitution anyway. Partey for Smith Rowe, they're losing the game and Partey isn't going to come on and get a brace. He shouldn't have put him on."
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: "We're over the moon. It's a difficult game, a difficult time generally, we just have to get through it. We try everything we can, and what the boys did tonight against a really strong Arsenal side was really exceptional.
"We scored two wonderful goals, Jota was on fire, but the passes too. I don't think a lot of people in the stadium saw Diogo in that position for the second goal, but Trent did which was helpful and he finished it off - absolutely outstanding.
"We were completely convinced when he arrived he'd help us massively. There's so many things before you sign a player, nowadays you can watch 100 games, we were really confident but since he's been here he's made another step. He's turned into a world-class striker, and that's really helpful for us."
Arsenal's Mikel Arteta: "We're really disappointed not to be in the final - but we played against a top side. We had big moments in the first half, and the second half. When you have those, you have to score.
"The first time they went through our press with a bit of luck they scored. With one pass, they are in front of goal, and when they are there they put the game to bed.
"We had good moments, we had good situations - but we have to score in those situations. We have to score goals to go through, and we're out."
Paul Merson on Sky Sports Football:
"They'll be disappointed. These chances don't come along too often - semi-finals of cup competitions - and they'll be disappointed. I don't see too many of the player sitting in the dressing room thinking 'I did enough tonight'.
"They didn't live up to their potential. And this is the problem Arteta has - this is a young team and one minute they're up there and then down there and that is the problem.
"Arsenal fans have to be patient with that. They're bringing youngsters through and you want that, but that's what is going to happen. You just didn't hope it was going to be in the semi-final of a big competition. It's a shame really."
Liverpool will face Chelsea in the final of the Carabao Cup at Wembley on Sunday, February 27.
Both sides are back in Premier League action on Sunday at 2pm. Arsenal host Burnley, while Liverpool travel to Crystal Palace for the first part of Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 1pm.