Diego Jota double fires Liverpool beat Arsenal in League Cup final

J ફોrgen Klopp saluted “world-class” Diego Jota after Portugal forward Liverpool were knocked out in the League Cup final against Chelsea in a 2-0 win over Arsenal on Thursday. Jota led Liverpool to Wembley with a first half strike and he won. His berth with a second goal late in the second leg of the semi-final. Klopp’s side will face Chelsea in the final on February 27. Jota’s 13th and 14th club goals this season underscore his value at a time when Liverpool are without Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Because of the African Cup of Nations.

“We scored two great goals, Diego Jota is on fire. We were convinced he would be a big help when he arrived at the club, “said Klopp, a former Wolves player.

“He’s taken another step since he came here, he’s really become a world-class striker.”

The Reds, who last lifted the League Cup in 2012, are back in the final for the first time since 2016 as they aim to win the competition for a record ninth time.

This will be Klopp’s fifth Cup final with Liverpool since he took charge in 2015.

In the week that former Liverpool chief executive Peter Robinson died at the age of 86, the club deserved to return to the final of a four-year winning tournament under his tutelage in the 1980s.

“The mood in the dressing room is on the moon. The boys were exceptional, “Klopp said.

“In the first half, Arsenal started live, then we calmed him down and played good football.”

For Arsenal, it was a disappointing defeat after Granit Zaka managed to draw 0-0 in the first leg at Anfield last week despite a red card.

Mikel Arteta’s youth side was exposed by hard-line opponents, emphasizing the reforms still needed to revive the Gunners.

The dismissal for Thomas Party’s stoppage-time fast-paced two bookings added salt to his wounds.

“We were really disappointed but we played against the top team. We had big moments in both halves and we have to score, “Arteta said.

“We had chances and we were pushing for the game but we have to convert if we beat a team like Liverpool.”

Arsenal were unable to field a team when they successfully asked to postpone the North London derby against Tottenham last weekend.

But Arteta was sent close to full strength a few days later as all three Techiro Tomiasu, Emil Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard returned.

For Liverpool, Alison Baker was replaced by Caoimhin Kalehr and a quick save in the fifth minute paid off Klopp’s confidence.

Deadly shoes

Alexandre Lacazette’s free-kick headed to the top corner until Caleher rushed to tip it over the crossbar.

But Klopp’s players took the lead in the 19th minute when they cut Arsenal’s defense.

Roberto Firmino’s skillful backheel saw Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield and his racking pass reached the shoe on the left.

Going inside the edge of the Arsenal area, Jota’s silly nutmeg led him behind Tomiasu and, in a futile attempt to stop three defenders, the Portuguese forward hit a low shot that passed slowly to keeper Aaron Ramsdale in response.

Arsenal had a golden opportunity to equalize immediately after the interval when Albert Sambi sent Lacazette clear on goal near Loconta of Lokonga, just to have the French striker throw his shot at the bar.

In the grand opening final, Liverpool substitute Takumi Minamino saw his shot blocked on the line by Ben White before Gabriel Martineli’s rising drive was forced to stop well at the other end by Calehar.

Jota ran on Alexander-Arnold’s pass and chipped Ramsdale in the 77th minute.

The goal was subject to a lengthy VAR investigation for offside, but Jota and Liverpool were finally able to celebrate their place at Wembley.

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