Liverpool beats Chelsea 1-0 to gift exiting manager Jurgen Klopp the Carabao Cup

Liverpool skipper Virgil van Dijk celebrates with teammates, but his header was later cancelled by VAR.

Liverpool skipper Virgil van Dijk celebrates with teammates, but his header was later cancelled by VAR. Photo: Getty

Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk has powered home a header in extra time as his side beat Chelsea 1-0 in the League Cup final to clinch a record 10th title in the competition and crown Jurgen Klopp’s final season in charge with silverware.

Van Dijk rose high above his marker to head a corner back across goal and into the far corner in the 118th minute on Sunday, sparking wild celebrations among the Liverpool supporters.

With the club leading the Premier League and still in the FA Cup and Europa League, fans will hope the latest triumph provides the launch pad for more trophies in Klopp’s swansong campaign.

The Liverpool manager, who has announced he’ll leave after eight years at the end of the season, will take particular satisfaction in a victory achieved in testing circumstances, with the club facing an injury crisis that forced Klopp to put his faith in a host of young players.

They did not let him down.

“What happened here was absolutely insane, these things are not possible. The team, a squad, an academy full of character,” Klopp said.

“I am so proud I could be part of that tonight.

“The craziest thing is we deserved it. We had lucky moments, they had lucky moments. The boys showed up, it was really cool.”

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino’s hopes of igniting the season after a difficult start to his reign were dashed, with the Blues becoming the first team in English football history to lose six successive domestic major finals.

The past three of those defeats have come against Liverpool.

Pochettino, tasked with knitting together a squad assembled at huge expense, will be disappointed his side failed to get the better of Liverpool’s young outfit – even though his team trail the leaders by 25 points in the Premier League and was soundly beaten 4-1 at Anfield in January.

“(The players) are professional, they need to feel the pain,” Pochettino said.

“We played for a trophy we didn’t get. They need to feel the pain like us.”

In a captivating encounter, both sides had what they thought were opening goals ruled out for offside – Raheem Sterling denied by the linesman’s flag for Chelsea before the break and Dutchman Van Dijk’s header after the interval chalked off in a controversial call by the VAR.

The chances came thick and fast in a furious end-to-end encounter, with both sides hitting the woodwork and spurning numerous other opportunities.

Liverpool overcame a devastating injury list, with Diogo Jota, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones, goalkeeper Alisson, key forwards Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez and midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai recently joining a number of longer-term absentees on the sidelines.

It ended the game on Sunday with 19-year-olds James McConnell and Bobby Clark on the pitch alongside Jayden Danns, 18.

The Reds were handed a reprieve by the lineman’s flag when Sterling tapped home from Nicolas Jackson’s pass.

Cody Gakpo headed against the post from Andy Robertson’s cross near the end of the half, then Van Dijk thought he had put them in front in the 60th minute only to see his effort chalked off by VAR.

Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher, who spurned a number of other chances, had an opportunity to win it in the 85th minute but his shot was excellently saved.

Harvey Elliott forced a brilliant save from Djordje Petrovic with five minutes of extra time remaining but it did not matter as moments later, Van Dijk headed the ball home.

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