London Saints

Liverpool Away EFL Cup 2nd Leg Won 1 – 0

The chances of succeeding in the League Cup semi final at Liverpool, whether in 90 minutes, 120 minutes or even after penalties, seemed to depend on whether Van Dijk was fit enough to play – and he wasn’t. There was no sign of the fog we’d seen in the south of England, so a postponement was out of the question and we just had to get on with it with what was available, and that was a full strength team apart from the centre back pairing of Yoshida and Stephens who had started the season as second choices. And they did us proud, all eleven of them in a first half that saw the industrious Ward-Prowse and Davis gradually become the dominant midfielders. Of course the one goal lead from the first leg meant that a Saints goal wasn’t of the same importance as a clean sheet, but chances were coming our way, notably the two created by Redmond’s pace but missed by Tadić and Davis respectively. This was in contrast with a strangely indecisive home side, and another 45 minutes of the same would surely see us home, with Forster now defending what should be known as the Katalinić End in memory of a sublime performance by a stopper that gained our first top flight victory at Anfield. Jűrgen Klopp’s droll public personality is quite attractive but he surely hasn’t achieved the success he has without being able to deliver a half time tongue lashing, and his team certainly looked more intent (or was that worried?) after the break, while Saints had been forced into a substitution of Long for Rodriguez. On 53 minutes, Forster made the sort of incredible save Katalinć would have been proud of when he somehow managed the claw the ball away from off the goal line, but he won’t be that proud himself as it was his own error that caused the situation when he rather made a mess of Can’s shot. There was probably a bit too much pressure for any Saints fan’s liking but Yoshie and young Stephens were growing in stature and belief as the game wore on, and happily Sturridge managed to miss what clear chances came the Reds’ way. Saints had a setback when the influential Ward-Prowse limped out of the fray, but Claude’s only unenforced substitution raised a few eyebrows, bringing on Sims for Redmond with under ten minutes left. Yes, the clock was now on our side and when referee Atkinson turned down penalty appeals for handball by Long (even from 100 yards away, that one may have looked dodgy!) and a challenge by Stephens, things were looking good. They were looking brilliant just as the game moved into added time when Sims justified his selection with a 60 yard run to set up Long whose excellent first touch made the finish a formality. Cue great celebrations at one end and a rapidly emptying ground at the other – an unlikely but famous victory for the Saints. Che sera, sera… get those tickets ordered, Terry!

LSSC Man of the Match: Maya Yoshida, although I don’t suppose anyone would have objected if we’d given it to Stephens instead.

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