Djordje Petrovic urges Chelsea to use 'painful' Carabao Cup final defeat as fuel for future success

Djordje Petrovic urges Chelsea to use 'painful' Carabao Cup final defeat as fuel for future success

Chelsea goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic says the club’s “new generation” must use the pain of yesterday’s Carabao Cup Final defeat to a young, injury-hit Liverpool side to fuel success under Mauricio Pochettino.

The Blues were ridiculed for the extra-time defeat against a team full of academy players at Wembley, with the side branded “billion-pound bottlejobs” by Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville.

Virgil van Dijk’s 118th-minute header sealed an emotional victory for Jurgen Klopp’s side, who were missing 10 injured players, including Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Trent Alexander-Arnold, with Ryan Gravenberch going off on a stretcher midway through the first half. Liverpool ended the match with Jayden Danns, 18, Bobby Clark and James McConnell, both 19, and Jarell Quansah, 21, on the pitch, alongside 20-year-old starters Conor Bradley and Harvey Elliott.

The defeat, watched by co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali, who have spent more than £1billion on new players, was Chelsea’s sixth consecutive loss in domestic cup finals and left Pochettino still searching for his first trophy in English football.

After missing the chance to win silverware and qualify for Europe, Petrovic demanded they bounce back against Leeds in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday. Defeat would bring a premature end to the club’s season.

“The feeling is very painful,” he said. “It was a first final for a lot of us, also here at Wembley. The atmosphere was amazing and we really felt the supporters with us. We must use this feeling, because this is a new generation and we want to keep the success of this club.

“We are not happy and it hurts. We left everything on the pitch. The team put in a lot of effort and we had a lot of opportunities — we hit the post and had chances to kill the game, but we couldn’t do it.

“Then we concede the very late goal, and that one detail changes everything, as we don’t have time to stop them from lifting the trophy. Now we have to get our heads up and think about Wednesday.”

Pochettino urged his players to “feel the pain” of defeat, but said Klopp’s Liverpool remain an example to Chelsea after losing the Europa League and Champions League finals before becoming a winning machine. The Argentine was critical of his team for wasting “four, five or six big chances”, with Conor Gallagher, Cole Palmer and Axel Disasi particularly at fault during the initial 90 minutes.

Pochettino urged his side to “feel the pain” of their defeat (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
Pochettino urged his side to “feel the pain” of their defeat (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Chelsea faded in extra time, as substitutes Christopher Nkunku, Mykhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke failed to provide the required quality.

Asked what he thought about Neville’s jibes, Pochettino replied: “I didn’t hear what he said, but I think if you compare the ages of the two groups, I think they are similar. Look, I have a good relationship with Gary. I don’t know how I can take his opinion, but I respect his opinion. Of course, we made a few changes, like Gallagher and Chilwell in extra-time.

“We didn’t keep the energy like how we finished in the second half, but I feel proud of the players. They made a big effort. We are a young team. There’s nothing to compare with Liverpool, because they also finished with young players. [Neville] knows the dynamics are completely different. I don’t think it’s fair to speak this way. We are going to keep strong, believe in this project and see what we can do in the future.”

Pochettino must now switch focus to facing Championship side Leeds at Stamford Bridge. The FA Cup is the last chance at silverware, and winning it offers a route into the Europa League next season.