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With a second-half comeback led by Cody Gakpo, Liverpool defeats Fulham.

With a second-half comeback led by Cody Gakpo, Liverpool defeats Fulham.

Replacements of Liverpool’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at home against Fulham was turned around by Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez, who came off the bench to guarantee that Liverpool would take a 2-1 lead to Craven Cottage.

The hosts were behind Willian’s goal in the 19th minute due to a Virgil van Dijk mistake when the two were brought on early in the second half.

 

Trent Alexander-Arnold, who helped turn a 3-2 Fulham lead into a 4-3 Reds victory in the Premier League encounter last month, was sidelined due to injury, but Jurgen Klopp’s substitutions changed the game, just like they did at Arsenal in the FA Cup this past weekend.

 

Gakpo brought calmness and control to midfield, while Nunez brought a directness that had been missing. Prior to being replaced by his Netherlands teammate, Ryan Gravenberch had not.

 

And just three minutes after Curtis Jones’ deflected equalizer, the two worked together to score for Gakpo in the 71st minute.

 

Real Madrid was the last team to triumph at Anfield in February. Before that, in October 2022, there was another team dressed in white: Leeds. Fulham, playing in their first League Cup semifinal, had to be feeling good about their start.

 

Conor Bradley, 20, filled in for Alexander-Arnold in just his second start of the year as part of Klopp’s six changes from the previous weekend. Van Dijk was also back.

 

The captain of the Netherlands returned from illness, but it cost him dearly to head a ball carelessly sideways on the boundary of his territory.

With a few deft touches, Willian created space for himself to shoot through the legs of the recovering Dutchman and give goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher little chance. Andreas Pereira nipped in behind and cut the ball back to the penalty spot.

 

Shortly after, Van Dijk received a booking for striking Pereira in the face with his arm while he was still struggling.

 

However, his team’s build-up was too one-paced, matching his personal struggles.

 

Although Harvey Elliott was assigned to replace Mohamed Salah on the right wing, he frequently appeared to be expected to fill the space that Alexander-Arnold had previously occupied by dropping deep and Bradley pressing forward in the traditional over-lapping full-back role.

 

However, Fulham had more shots on goal in the first half, and the only other chances were an early Jones attempt that went straight at Bernd Leno and a Diogo Jota narrow-angle shot that went across the face of the goal.

 

After the interval, the action picked up speed. Gravenberch missed a shot, and Jota took a little too long to react after making space for himself by running squarely across the penalty area, giving Antonee Robinson a chance to block.

 

However, Fulham was able to take advantage of the opening in Liverpool’s defense as the home team pushed for an equalizer, and Kelleher dipped low to block a Bobby Decordova-Reid shot.

Leno mishandled Alexis Mac Allister’s cross, but Jones’ long-range shot proved to be fortunate in the equalizer.

 

had a bit of luck when Jones entered off Tosin Adarabioyo’s back and took aim from a distance.

 

Gakpo connected with Jota to head home Nunez’s near-post cross, testing Leno once more.

 

The all-action of Liverpool Before the second leg, the Uruguayan could have virtually guaranteed Liverpool’s trip to Wembley, but a full-stretch Leno deflected his header, parried a hard drive, and stopped his close-range attempt.

 

 

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