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Gary Neville: Chelsea are the blue billion-pound bottlejobs after Carabao Cup final defeat by Liverpool

Virgil van Dijk headed in Liverpool's extra-time winner to condemn Chelsea to a record sixth straight domestic cup final defeat; Mauricio Pochettino's side missed several big opportunities against youthful Reds; Poch responded to Neville's comments in press conference

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Highlights from the Carabao Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool

Gary Neville described Chelsea as "blue billion-pound bottlejobs" as they were beaten in the Carabao Cup final by an injury-hit Liverpool.

Virgil van Dijk - who had seen an earlier goal controversially ruled out - headed in the winner after 118 minutes of drama.

"In extra-time it's been Klopp's kids against the blue, billion-pound bottlejobs," said Neville.

Already deprived of Trent-Alexander Arnold, Mo Salah and Darwin Nunez, Liverpool won the final with a host of youngsters on the pitch after 18-year-old Jayden Danns, 19-year-olds James McConnell and Bobby Clark as well as Jarell Quansah (21) were thrown into the fray. Conor Bradley (20) had started the final in defence and Harvey Elliott (20) played the full 120 minutes.

In contrast, Chelsea fielded Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo - both of whom cost over £100m - in the centre of their midfield. Raheem Sterling (£50m) was in attack, while Mykhailo Mudryk, who cost £88.5m, and £52m Christopher Nkunku stepped off the bench.

Todd Boehly has spent over £1bn on players since taking charge of the club in the summer of 2022.

"Liverpool have been absolutely sensational," added Neville. "Those young players have been incredible. Klopp must be so proud.

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"However, for Chelsea, I have no sympathy for them whatsoever. Mauricio Pochettino's players have shrunk. They have shrunk right in front of our eyes and in front of their fans."

Poch responds to Neville: It's not fair to talk in this way... I feel proud

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Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino rejects Gary Neville's description of his players as 'blue billion-pound bottlejobs'

Responding to the comments, Chelsea boss Pochettino said: "If you compare the age of the two groups, it's similar. I have a good relationship with Gary, I can respect his opinion. We made a few changes for extra-time, but we didn't keep the energy.

"For sure I feel proud. They made a big effort. We have a young team, and nothing to compare with Liverpool because they finished with young players on the pitch. It's not fair to talk in this way, if he said that. We're going to keep being strong and believing in this project."

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Liverpool captain and goal scorer Virgil van Dijk praises the young players in the squad following the extra-time win in the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea

Poch: Tired Chelsea wanted penalties

Pochettino admitted his players began to focus on taking the final to a penalty shootout as their legs started to tire during extra time.

He said: "Some players like [Conor] Gallagher and Chilly [Ben Chilwell] start to feel really, really tired and maybe [we] use different players to go with and help. We need to change Gallagher after five minutes and then in the start of the second 15 minutes, I think Chilwell. The team started to feel that maybe the penalties will be good for us.

"But we cannot blame, we cannot say nothing. I think the effort was massive. I am happy with the effort. It's about 'keep believing in that'. We didn't get the reward we wanted, but now we keep moving."

Carragher: Football is about connections not money

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher praised the unity of the Liverpool squad.

"This result just tells you that football isn't all about money," he said. "It's about getting the right players and creating a connection between those players, the manager and the supporters.

"Liverpool have that in abundance. There's no doubt Chelsea have quality but they still haven't found that connection this season."

Meanwhile, Sky Sports pundit Jamie O'Hara ripped into Pochettino's side: "Chelsea absolutely bottled it in extra-time. Pochettino, what an opportunity to win a trophy! Awful from his players.

"You've got a reserve team for Liverpool out there and they've played Chelsea off the park in extra-time for 30 minutes.

"I can't believe what I've seen. Chelsea were miles off it in extra-time."

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Virgil Van Dijk's extra-time winner secures Liverpool the victory at Wembley

Neville: This will sting for Chelsea

Neville added: "Before the game, with Liverpool's injuries, you think Chelsea could have won. The Liverpool kids come on and you think they should win. But then there was just something holding you back because you couldn't see Jurgen Klopp watching Chelsea go up and lift the trophy.

"The Chelsea players will regret that extra-time for a long, long time. I thought they played quite well and punched hard in normal time. They were a little unlucky. But in the real crux of the game in extra-time, where they had Liverpool by the scruff of the neck with those young kids, Chelsea didn't turn up. They didn't perform. You cannot do that.

Chelsea's unwanted cup final record

Chelsea are the first side in English football history to lose six consecutive domestic cup finals:
2019 EFL Cup
2020 FA Cup
2021 FA Cup
2022 EFL Cup
2022 FA Cup
2024 EFL Cup

"It was in half-time of extra-time Pochettino had to get them in a huddle and try to rouse them. What was up with them?

"I'm really disappointed with Chelsea in that extra-time period. You can lose any final and you can lose any game of football, but you cannot play like that. You cannot shrink and go back, particularly when Liverpool had five kids on the pitch.

"They had to go for their throats."

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