Precise Liverpool book place in Carabao Cup final despite Harry Wilson inspiring late Fulham charge

Liverpool will face Chelsea at Wembley next month (Action Images via Reuters)
Liverpool will face Chelsea at Wembley next month (Action Images via Reuters)

Fulham’s hopes of reaching a first-ever Carabao Cup final were killed by Liverpool at Craven Cottage, and this was a decidedly slow death, the Reds picking them off one precise pass at a time.

Trailing 2-1 from the first leg at Anfield a fortnight ago, Fulham were patently aware of the task that confronted them but powerless to prevent Liverpool reaching their record-extending 14th final of this competition, where they will face Chelsea.

This 1-1 draw had two starkly different periods to it. For the first 75 minutes, it was a wholly one-sided affair, Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League leaders enjoying an ominously large share of possession and thwarting everything Fulham tried when they did pinch it.

But when Harry Wilson came on against his former team, he gave Fulham an immediate outlet on the right flank and, indeed, an immediate lift. Luis Diaz’s 13th-minute opener feeling an awful long time ago, Wilson popped up on the left, cut inside young Conor Bradley, and crossed for centre-back Issa Diop to bundle home a leveller on the night.

Liverpool rode out the storm, though, and in the end they were the deserved finalists — not necessarily better than Fulham at Anfield earlier this month but markedly better over the course of these 90 minutes.

Harry Wilson was bright off the bench against his former club (Getty Images)
Harry Wilson was bright off the bench against his former club (Getty Images)

They took the lead on 13 minutes in somewhat fortuitous circumstances, though there was nothing lucky about the way Jarred Quansah’s outstanding long pass into Diaz made the goal possible.

The fortune was in how Diaz’s weak shot deflected off both Joao Palhinha and Tosin Adarabioyo, before squeezing into the net via the post and a soft attempt to keep it out by Bernd Leno.

Fulham had moments in the first half — like Raul Jimenez’s and Willian’s long-range efforts which Caoimhin Kelleher was equal to — but they were only ever incidental moments in a half which Liverpool dominated from start to finish.

Andreas Pereira struck the post from a tight angle shortly after the interval — another opportunity which came and went and left many of a Fulham persuasion inside Craven Cottage hoping they would not come to rue it.

Darwin Nunez, desperate to shake the tagline of misfiring striker for good, forced Leno into a wonderful, sprawling save as Liverpool sought to put victory on the night and, indeed, the tie beyond any doubt.

Instead, Wilson came on, delivered for Diop, and there was hope once more for Fulham.

Only hope, though. Liverpool wound down the clock and walked their final few steps to Wembley. It is they who will grace the national stadium next month, not Fulham.