Football: Liverpool will win the League Cup, says Klopp

Liverpool's Joe Allen (above) scoring the decisive penalty to win the shoot-out (6-5) against Stoke City in their League Cup semi-final second leg. Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (below) also played a crucial role, saving from Peter Crouch and Marc M
Liverpool's Joe Allen (above) scoring the decisive penalty to win the shoot-out (6-5) against Stoke City in their League Cup semi-final second leg. Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet also played a crucial role, saving from Peter Crouch and Marc Muniesa in the shoot-out.PHOTOS: REUTERS
Liverpool's Joe Allen scoring the decisive penalty to win the shoot-out (6-5) against Stoke City in their League Cup semi-final second leg. Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (above) also played a crucial role, saving from Peter Crouch and Marc Muniesa in the
Liverpool's Joe Allen scoring the decisive penalty to win the shoot-out (6-5) against Stoke City in their League Cup semi-final second leg. Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet (above) also played a crucial role, saving from Peter Crouch and Marc Muniesa in the shoot-out. PHOTOS: REUTERS

The German takes the Reds to 1st major final since 2012 after a shoot-out win over Stoke

LONDON • Brendan Rodgers was sacked as Liverpool manager after failing to deliver a trophy in 31/2 years at the club.

After being at the helm for 31/2 months, Juergen Klopp has vowed to lift the League Cup with the Reds.

"Manchester City or Everton, I don't care, we will win the Cup," he said after his side's dramatic 6-5 penalty shoot-out victory over Stoke City on Tuesday.

"Over the two legs, with all the games the players have had in the last two months, they deserved it. The fans deserved it. Liverpool deserved it."

Everton took a 2-1 lead to City as the second semi-final concluded yesterday.

Like their cross-town rivals, Liverpool went into the second leg with an advantage. But they saw their 1-0 aggregate lead wiped out in first-half stoppage time at Anfield when Marko Arnautovic swept home a cross from Bojan Krkic, despite appearing to be in an offside position.

Both sides hit the post thereafter - Roberto Firmino for Liverpool, substitute Marco van Ginkel for Stoke - before Simon Mignolet's saves in the shoot-out.

RINGING ENDORSEMENT

Manchester City or Everton, I don't care, we will win the Cup. Over the two legs, with all the games the players have had in the last two months, they deserved it. The fans deserved it. Liverpool deserved it.

JUERGEN KLOPP, Reds manager, is confident his team can clinch the League Cup at Wembley on Feb 28.

Mignolet has been criticised after some unconvincing recent displays, but he first thwarted Liverpool old boy Peter Crouch and then Marc Muniesa.

Between those two saves, Emre Can sent his penalty against the post. But Joe Allen settled proceedings by planting his spot kick into the top-right corner.

Klopp did not even see the penalty shoot-out properly - he was asked to sit down and his view from the dugout was obstructed by his players - yet he knew Liverpool had come through a difficult test.

"Stoke changed their style today, it was (goalkeeper Jack) Butland to Crouch so it was difficult to defend," he said. "We had a few problems in the first half, but they didn't have too many opportunities and we were better in the second.

"Their goal was double offside but in the end we had luck in the penalty shoot-out.

"I think, because I did not see one shot. Usually I watch them but the people in the front row could not see, because I am tall, so I had to sit down."

Liverpool's fragility beneath the high ball was demonstrated anew in Saturday's madcap 5-4 win at Norwich City and Stoke manager Mark Hughes sought to target their aerial vulnerability by awarding Crouch only his fifth start of the season.

The former England striker got his head to plenty of balls. But none of those efforts were telling enough to prevent Liverpool from reaching their first major final since 2012.

Stoke had eliminated holders Chelsea in round four, but despite recording a first win inside 90 minutes at Anfield since March 1959, they fell short in their bid to reach their first League Cup final since they won the tournament in 1972.

"I'm really proud of what the players produced," said Hughes, whose side did not face a shot on target from open play until the first minute of extra time.

"I can't fault any of them. I thought we were the dominant team, but we're not the ones going to Wembley, unfortunately."

Klopp will return to Wembley for the first time since leading Borussia Dortmund to the 2013 Champions League final.

By then, the German might have strengthened his side with players from the Bundesliga.

According to Sky Sports, Liverpool have put in an offer for Schalke defender Joel Matip.

Liverpool are also reportedly interested in Borussia Moenchengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2016, with the headline 'LIVERPOOL WILL WIN LEAGUE CUP: KLOPP'. Print Edition | Subscribe