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Monday, May 20, 2024

Carabao Cup final 2024: Van Dijk savours ‘incredible’ Liverpool despite injury ‘problems’ for Salah, Nunez

Matchwinner Virgil van Dijk said he was “so proud” of Liverpool after “all the problems” the Premier League leaders faced before beating Chelsea to win the Carabao Cup final 2024 with the Dutchman’s header in second-half added time.

Defender Van Dijk scored the latest goal in the final since Brian Little for Aston Villa against Everton in 1977 as a Liverpool side deprived of top scorer Mohamed Salah and striker Darwin Nunez triumphed against more experienced opponents assembled at huge expense.

“It could have gone the other way but we did a job, even with all the problems we have had before the game,” said Van Dijk, speaking to Sky Sports after forming part of a backline without first-choice goalkeeper Alisson and influential right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold.

“It’s emotion, it’s everything. I am so proud of the boys. All of the young boys playing their part in what we achieved today. It’s incredible – and on to more.”

Read our other football news stories here:
Klopp hails Liverpool youngsters
Lijnders takes positives from injuries
Van Dijk says Klopp exit will be ‘very emotional’

Forward Diogo Jota, midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai and defender Curtis Jones were among Liverpool’s other absentees for an enthralling final which Jurgen Klopp’s side ended with five players aged under 22 on the pitch including teenagers Bobby Clark, James McConnell and Jayden Danns.

“When you’re young and get an opportunity, you have to grab it with both hands,” Van Dijk said after winning his first trophy as captain.

“The guys did it. The coach makes them do it as well. It’s good to see. They should use this to kick on and I’m sure they will.”

Liverpool win Carabao Cup: Kelleher ‘world-class’

Van Dijk praised goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher as “world-class” after Alisson’s deputy produced a vital save to deny Conor Gallagher in a one-on-one four minutes from the end of regular time.

Both teams hit the woodwork and, after former Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling had a strike disallowed during the first half, a Van Dijk header was ruled out after the break because Wataru Endo was adjudged to have been offside.

“It’s hard to sum up,” said Kelleher. “These are the moments you dream of, celebrating with the fans and winning at Wembley.

“It’s hard to describe. It’s another amazing moment for me. We won’t get ahead of ourselves but it’s a great start to give us momentum for the rest of the season.

“We’ve players to come back but the young lads have been brilliant. We’re in a good place. Hopefully we can win a few more.”



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