Good evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole
for tonight's League Cup semi-final second leg between Liverpool
and Stoke City
at Anfield. Wembley could be just 90 minutes away for one of these sides, and it is the hosts who go into the game with the advantage following their first-leg victory at the Britannia earlier this month. Stoke are by no means out of it, however, so we should be in for an intriguing contest tonight. Let's start with a look at the two teams...
LIVERPOOL STARTING XI: Mignolet; Flanagan, Toure, Sakho, Moreno; Lucas, Can, Henderson, Milner, Lallana; Firmino
LIVERPOOL SUBS: Ward, Lovren, Benteke, Allen, Ibe, Teixeira, Smith
STOKE STARTING XI: Butland; Johnson, Wollscheid, Muniesa, Pieters; Whelan, Afellay; Walters, Bojan, Arnautovic; Crouch
STOKE SUBS: Haugaard; Bardsley, Joselu, Wilson, Van Ginkel, Adam, Shaqiri
What can we make of those two teams, then? Well perhaps the biggest news from the Liverpool camp is the inclusion of Jon Flanagan from the start. The full-back has suffered a nightmare spell out of the game through injuries and only recently made his return to the field as a sub. An injury picked up by Clyne at the weekend means that the next stage of his recovery is rushed a little as tonight he makes his first start for Liverpool since May 2014.
Aside from the inclusion of Flannagan, Klopp makes just the one change from that remarkable match against Norwich on Saturday, and it is an interesting one considering what happened in the first leg of this tie. On that occasion Ibe came off the bench to replace the injured Coutinho and ended up scoring the goal that separates the two teams at the moment, but he is dropped back to the bench for tonight's match having started at the weekend. In his place comes Lallana, who scored the dramatic winner against the Canaries.
Indeed, all of Liverpool's goalscorers from Carrow Road start tonight, and none are in better form right now than Roberto Firmino. The big-money summer signing had scored just one goal in his previous 24 appearances for the club since a recent streak of four in his last three, including a brace against Norwich. Henderson and Milner, who joined him on the scoresheet on Saturday, continue in midfield.
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There are no unenforced changes at the back despite some very questionable defending during that match against Norwich, and indeed on a number of occasions recently. Lovren does return to the bench following a recent hamstring injury but isn't yet fit enough to start, so Toure and Sakho continue to provide the centre-back partnership, with Moreno on the left. Liverpool's record of defending set pieces under Klopp has been woeful, so that may be an area of concern for the hosts tonight.
It is also an area that Stoke will be looking to exploit, which perhaps explains the thinking behind handing Peter Crouch a rare start up front. Mark Hughes
has often opted for a false nine in the most advanced role, but Joselu, who has carried that out on occasions, only makes the bench today. Shaqiri is also interestingly left out of the starting lineup, and the inclusions of Crouch and Walters ahead of that pair perhaps tells us what style Stoke will go for tonight.
The Potters do, however, welcome Bojan and Arnautovic back into the starting XI after both missed the weekend's match. Bojan was left on the bench for the trip to the King Power Stadium, while Arnautovic missed out with a tight hamstring. He has sufficiently recovered from that to start tonight, however, which will be a big boost for the visitors considering the form that he has been in this season.
Whelan and Afellay continue in midfield from the weekend, but there is one change at the back for the Potters as Shawcross misses out. The skipper injured his back during the defeat to Leicester and is expected to miss up to a month through injury now, which is a major blow for Mark Hughes
's side - not just for tonight but for the upcoming games too. Muniesa replaces Shawcross in a back four that also includes a first return to Anfield for Johnson.
Most eyes will be on Stoke's attacking players this evening simply due to the fact that the visitors must score to stand any chance of going through, but similarly conceding at the other end could have a fatal impact on their chances of reaching Wembley. Jack Butland may prove to be every bit as important as the attackers then, and that is something that could be said for the entire season. The keeper has been a superb form this campaign, so much so that many are tipping him to challenge Joe Hart for England's number one jersey.
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The fact that Liverpool are essentially relying on their defence to see them through to Wembley rather than their attack will give Stoke a boost, and no doubt be a concern for Jurgen Klopp
. The Reds have not been tight at the back in recent weeks by any stretch of the imagination, and their habit of conceding from set pieces is a major weak spot that simply has to be addressed. If it isn't done tonight, then it could well prove to be Liverpool's undoing.
The simple fact at the start of play, however, is that Jurgen Klopp
is just 90 minutes away from reaching a major cup final less than four months after taking over the club - something Brendan Rodgers failed to do throughout his time at Anfield. Klopp may have fielded some much-changed lineups against Exeter in the FA Cup, but he is known to take any trophy seriously and this is a very good chance for him to get some silverware early in his reign.
The inconsistency under the German makes it a little tougher to predict than it otherwise might have been. In years gone by, backing Liverpool to see out the second leg of a semi-final at Anfield would have been easier to do than now, when there remains a question mark over which Liverpool is going to turn up. They deserve their aggregate lead at the halfway stage following their 1-0 win in the first leg, but past performances this season suggest that they only have a toe, at most, in the final right now.
It will be interesting to see which style Klopp opts for this evening. A couple of goals could well kill off any challenge of Stoke's, but that philosophy of attack being the best form of defence certainly carries risks. Liverpool have been much better going forward of late, scoring eight goals in their last two games - the same amount as they had managed in their previous eight before that - but it does come at a price at the other end of the field.
The four goals shipped in the nine-goal thriller against Norwich mean that Liverpool now have the worst defensive record in the top 11 of the Premier League table. That is not only a potential problem if they try to attack Stoke and open the game up, but also if they choose to sit back and challenge Stoke to break them down. The visitors only need a 1-0 victory to force extra time and potentially penalties, when anything can happen.
They do need to lose for that to happen, however, and the Reds have only lost one of their last seven home matches in all competitions - and two of their last 15. They have drawn more than they have won in that time, but a draw would suit them just fine this evening. A victory tonight would give them consecutive domestic home wins for the first time all season,excluding penalties.
Their record in the League Cup is also very impressive. They reached the semi-finals last season too, only losing after extra time to Chelsea courtesy of a Branislav Ivanovic goal at Stamford Bridge. It means they have lost just one of their last nine League Cup games, and they are unbeaten in their last six at home since losing to Swansea in October 2013. They have never lost a League Cup semi-final here, winning eight and drawing seven.
Stoke have the weight of history against them in that respect, then, but they have shown enough times already this season that they have the ability to cause big teams problems. They have picked up deserved victories over both Manchester clubs and Chelsea, and recently held title-chasing Arsenal to a goalless draw. They did not perform well in the first leg, but should they improve that display this time around then there is every chance that it could be them heading off to Wembley.
Their form has not been the best in recent weeks, though. Following a positive end to 2015, Stoke have won only two of their six matches since the turn of the year, and one of those came against Doncaster Rovers in the FA Cup. They have lost three of those six matches in 2016 and have failed to score in either of the last two, although it should be noted that both of those matches came against sides who, at the time, were in the top two.
The latest of those was against Leicester City on Saturday, and it was an afternoon that Hughes will not look back on too fondly. The Foxes have been stuttering themselves recently following a magnificent first half of the season, but they ran out comfortable 3-0 winners over Stoke. The Potters were far short of their best as goals from Drinkwater, Vardy and Ulloa handed Leicester the win, and to make matters worse Stoke also lost Shawcross to injury in that game.
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In fairness to the Potters, it is not often that they have been so soundly beaten, and that result can be taken as an anomaly rather than the rule this season. Indeed, even including those three goals, only five sides in the league have conceded fewer than Stoke so far. The concern comes at the other end of the field, where no team outside the bottom seven has scored fewer. Considering they have to score at least once tonight, that does not bode too well for their chances.
Their recent away record will also be of some concern. They have only won one of their last five away matches against Premier League opposition, although that victory did come on Merseyside against Everton in a 4-3 thriller. They have also won at Doncaster in the FA Cup but, when it comes to Premier League sides, Stoke have been inconsistent on the road. They have won four, drawn four and lost four of their 12 away outings.
It is a different story in this competition, however. Stoke have won their last five League Cup away matches, including penalties, last failing to progress from an away tie back in October 2010 when West Ham United ran out 3-1 winners after extra time. Two of their matches in this season's competition have come away from home, with a penalty shootout victory over Luton and a 1-0 triumph over Fulham.
The Potters also boast a penalty shootout victory over Chelsea in this year's tournament, before overcoming Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 in the quarters to reach the last four. However, they average just a goal per game from their five League Cup outings this season, making them the lowest scorers left in the competition - Liverpool managed more goals in one away game against Southampton earlier in the competition. That is an area that they will need to improve on tonight.
PREDICTION: We're 10 minutes from kickoff at Anfield, which means that it is time for a prediction! These are rarely much good with Liverpool at the moment as you really don't know what will happen in their matches, but they will be confident of doing what they need to do to progress to Wembley tonight. Stoke will also fancy their chances, but I'm going to back a 2-1 home victory this evening.
Stoke's record at Anfield down the years is almost as bad as it gets, which is another reason for backing the hosts tonight. The Potters have not won here in any competition since March 1959 - a run of 36 visits that includes 31 defeats. Indeed, Stoke have only scored once in their last eight trips to Anfield, with that goal coming in their last cup visit when they were beaten 2-1 in the FA Cup.
It is more of the same in the League Cup itself. Stoke are winless in their six previous meetings with Liverpool in this competition, and on only one of those occasions have they even avoided defeat. The Potters do, at least, have a 100% record from previous League Cup semi-finals, reaching Wembley for the final twice in their history. The first of those came in 1963-64, when they were beaten in the final, and the second, in 1971-72, provided the only major trophy in the club's history.
There could not be much more between the respective pedigree of these two sides, both in general silverware won and solely in this tournament. Liverpool have lifted this trophy a record eight times down the years, the last of which came in 2012. They have only once failed to reach the final after winning the first leg of the semi-final too, losing to Middlesbrough in 1997-98 having won 2-1 in the first leg at Anfield.
We're ticking ever closer to kickoff now, so one final reminder that Liverpool hold a 1-0 aggregate lead following their victory in the first leg, courtesy of Jordon Ibe
's goal. The winner of the tie will face either Everton or Manchester City in the final next month.
KICKOFF: Here we go then! Liverpool get us underway at Anfield with just 90 minutes separating them from Wembley.
Klopp asked to hear the Anfield semi-final atmosphere, and the crowd are obliging in the early stages. There is a great noise around the stadium for this match.
This game has started at a good tempo, with Liverpool in particular looking to make a fast start. They are zipping the ball about and always looking forward first, but so far neither side have been able to create anything.
Good spell of possession for the visitors as they look to gain a foothold in the game and take a bit of the sting out of the home fans. It eventually comes to an end with a long ball forward from Butland, but that was a decent period for Stoke.
Flanagan receives a big round of applause from the fans for a good piece of defending up against Arnautovic. He will be delighted to have passed his first real test there.
Liverpool have tried a number of early passes forward already tonight as they look to turn defence into attack quickly, but so far all of them have been over hit and run easily through to Butland.
Can picks up the ball on the left touchline and carries it all the way around to the right channel before seeing it run out for a goal kick.
The first shot of the match comes from the visitors as Afellay slips a good reverse pass down the channel for Walters, whose effort is deflected behind for a corner. First test from a set piece for Liverpool tonight...
...and they pass it. Sakho stoops to clear the low first delivery at the near post, and the second ball is also dealt with on this occasion by the hosts.
Stoke have actually had 63% possession in the opening 15 minutes, which is a surprising statistic. The visitors have seen plenty of the ball, but don't necessarily have control over the game. Liverpool have struggled to keep hold of it for any sustained period of time, though.
Important challenge from Wollscheid as he gets a foot to the ball just before Lallana. Afellay had sold him a little short and Lallana would have been in had he got there first and poked it past the defender, but Wollscheid made the challenge.
Good pressure from Liverpool down the right as they keep Stoke penned deep in their own half, with Arnautovic operating on his own byline. The attack eventually comes to nothing, though.
CHANCE! The first chance of the evening falls the way of the visitors as Walters springs the offside trap to race through on goal. Sakho is busting a gut to get back, though, and just about does enough with a sliding challenge as Walters sends his effort wide of the target. By far the clearest chance we've had so far.
Liverpool have their first shot of the match, but it isn't a great one. Can spins away from one man following another attack down the right, but he tries to side-foot one into the top corner from range and sends it well off target.
YELLOW CARD! The first card of the night goes to Muniesa for a foul on Milner, and the Spaniard can have no complaints at all.
Concern for Walters here as he goes down off the ball and shows the referee a big cut in his sock. He was obviously caught by a stud on the ankle, but replays indicate that it may well have come from his own man Crouch.
We're half an hour in here, and we're still yet to have a shot on target. Stoke have had the only chance of the game too, but Liverpool won't really mind if the score stays the same. This is enough to take them through to the final, after all.
Henderson tries to float a ball over the top for Lallana spinning in behind, but it is another one that goes straight through to the keeper. It hasn't worked for the hosts going forward so far.
CLOSE! Liverpool finally come close as Can takes a short free kick quickly, finding Lallana before picking the return pass up around 30 yards from goal. He advances a little closer before letting fly, but his strike flies a yard or two past the post.
At the other end Arnautovic holds the ball up well before slipping a pass inside for Crouch, who in turn tees it up for Afellay. He let's fly from range, but the ball goes a long, long way off target.
Almost a chance for the visitors as Pieters whips a dangerous deep free kick into the box that Bojan stoops to flick on. He flies through the area, but it is too far in front of Crouch at the far post and runs through to safety.
This time it is Liverpool's turn to come close to creating something. Sakho strides out from defensive before slipping a pass to Lallana, who lets it run across his body on the edge of the area. He could go for goal himself, but instead looks to find Henderson, but puts his pass too far in front of his skipper.
Firmino is having to drop deep to get involved at the moment, with Lallana often finding himself as the most advanced player for the Reds.
SHOT! Henderson tries to open the scoring in spectacular fashion as Moreno's cross is only cleared as far as the skipper. He chests it down around 30 yards from goal before going for the volley, but Butland watches it safely wide.
Almost a chance again for Liverpool as the ball drops kindly for Milner 25 yards from goal, but he opts against going for it with his left foot and instead tries to set up Firmino, which comes to nothing.
SHOT! Afellay has a go from the other end of the field, letting fly from range, but his strike goes comfortably wide.
GOAL! Liverpool 0-1 Stoke (Marko Arnautovic)
Stoke level things up on aggregate right on the stroke of half time! It is Arnautovic who puts the ball home from close range having been found by a low ball into the box from the right flank, although the Liverpool defenders feel the offside flag should have been raised. The replay proves them right, but Stoke won't care one bit.
HALF TIME: Liverpool 0-1 Stoke City (1-1 on aggregate)
The referee brings the first half to an end, and it is Stoke who lead at the interval on the night. It hasn't been a thriller in terms of goalscoring chances, but Stoke have been the better for the most part and deserve their lead. It is all square on aggregate as things stand, and if everything stays the same then we're on course for extra time.
The only goal of the first half came with the only shot on target of the half in stoppage time. Stoke had a slice of luck about it, with Arnautovic slotting the ball home from an offside position, but again Liverpool could have done more defensively to stop it. It was Bojan to picked up a flick forward on the right flank before feeding a low pass in to Arnautovic, who stroked it home.
Stoke also created the next best chance - that is to say the only other chance - of the first half. Again Moreno was slow to react to a run from Walters, who raced through on goal and only had Mignolet to beat. Sakho was also sprinting to get back and put pressure on Walters, and that may have had an impact as the Stoke man pulled his effort wide of the target.
Aside from that, we have been mainly limited to long-range efforts from both sides. The closest Liverpool have come so far was through a 25-yard strike from Can that had Butland worried before flying a yard or so past the post. There really hasn't been much else to shout about for the hosts during what was a poor opening 45 minutes, and they will need to improve if they are to reach Wembley.
KICKOFF: Stoke get us back underway for the second half, with this tie very evenly poised now. As things stand, we're heading for extra time and penalties.
OFF THE POST! Bright start to the second half for Liverpool and they almost level things up on the night early on. A set piece is not adequately cleared by the visitors and Henderson cleverly feeds the ball to Firmino, whose low strike hits the outside of the near post.
PENALTY SHOUT! Liverpool want a penalty as Milner is barged into by Walters right on the edge of area, but the referee sees it as a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge and points only for a goal kick.
Klopp would have demanded a response from his side at the start of this season half, and so far he has got one. They have already threatened more than they did in the entire first half.
The crowd have responded in this second half too. They are roaring their team on having been a little subdued in that first half.
CHANCE! Very important contributions from both Mignolet and Sakho here. Arnautovic sends a brilliant ball over the top that Mignolet needs to come off his line to meet ahead of Walters. The clearance only goes as far as Bojan, who finds Walters again, but Sakho blocks the subsequent shot.
Nervy defending from a set piece yet again from the hosts as Crouch wins the first header. Liverpool are unable to clear it and criminally allow the ball to bounce in the area before just about scrambling it out for a corner.
The resulting delivery is cleared out as far as Johnson, who chests it down before sending a half-volley comfortably over from range.
LIVERPOOL SUB: Klopp calls for Christian Benteke already here as the striker replaces Henderson. Interesting decision to take his skipper off with half an hour of a semi-final to go - if not more.
CHANCE! Another magnificent piece of defending from Sakho to keep Stoke at bay! Again it all stems from a set piece as the ball isn't fully cleared and is worked back in to the box. It gets flicked to the back post where Walters is waiting, but Sakho dives in to make a much-needed block.
SHOT! Liverpool look to hit back after that really good period of pressure from Stoke. Lallana carries the ball forward but can only drag his low strike wide from outside the area.
Good goalkeeping from Butland as he comes off his line to claim a high ball in the box, relieving all of the pressure on his defence. Liverpool had to weather a storm in this second half, but this is better from them now.
CHANCE! Half a chance for Liverpool from a set piece of their own as Sakho loses his marker at the back post. However, he is perhaps a little unsighted as the ball arrives to him and he can't get good enough contact on the header to steer it on target.
Good play from Benteke as he drops deep to collect the ball before feeding a low pass out wide for Flanagan. The full-back tries a first-time low cross into the box, but Butland is there to collect it.
STOKE SUB: Stoke make their first change of the evening as Charlie Adam - a winner of this competition with Liverpool in 2012 - replaces Bojan.
Flanagan is, understandably, looking a little tired now and he brings down Arnautovic here to gift Stoke another free kick in a good crossing position. This one comes to nothing, however.
We have less than 15 minutes of normal time remaining now, but you sense that there is another twist in this one yet. Liverpool are pushing for a leveller on the night, but Stoke also carry a lingering threat.
CHANCE! Oh what a moment this would have been for Flanagan! Moreno sends a fine cross into the middle that Benteke is inches away from getting his head onto. It goes past him, however, and drops to Flanagan, who can't bring it under his spell and is eventually dispossessed by some frantic Stoke defending.
STOKE SUB: Another change for the visitors as they bring on their record signing Xherdan Shaqiri in place of the goalscorer Arnautovic.
Stoke are looking a little nervous now with 10 minutes remaining - I'm sure they would take the full-time whistle if you asked them now! It is Liverpool who are looking the most likely of getting the game's all-important second goal.
SHOT! Firmino looks to produce something special to hand his side the win here, letting fly from range having been afforded space to shoot. However, his effort swerves a couple of yards over the bar.
Another change for Liverpool, and it is another interesting decision from Klopp as Joe Allen
PENALTY SHOUT! Huge shout for a Liverpool penalty as a ball into the area appears to strike the arm of Pieters, but the Stoke defender had his back to the ball and it would have been a harsh decision.
YELLOW CARD! Flanagan goes into the book for a sliding challenge on Afellay, which came just after he had made another tackle. The referee allows play to continue, but is right to come back and produce the card.
There will be four added minutes at the end of the 90 here, but as things stand we are set for another 30 on top of that too.
YELLOW CARD! Brilliant play from Afellay as he holds off and beats three Liverpool players on a counter-attack, eventually being brought down by Allen, who picks up a deserved yellow card.
Stoke win a couple of corners in quick succession, with the second sent to Crouch at the back post. However, he is penalised for climbing on Can.
END OF 90 MINUTES: Liverpool 0-1 Stoke City (1-1 on aggregate)
That's it for the 90 minutes at Anfield, and into extra time we go! Stoke pick up their first win inside 90 minutes at Anfield since March 1959, but it still mat not be enough to see them through to the League Cup final. It is 1-1 on aggregate heading into the added 30 minutes, and if things stay the same then we will have penalties.
KICKOFF: Stoke get us back underway for the first half of extra time as they look to end a 44-year wait to reach the League Cup final.
CHANCE! Early chance for Liverpool in the opening minute of extra time as a ball over the top finds Benteke, who chests it down and lays it off for Firmino. The Brazilian toe-pokes towards the bottom corner, but Butland is there to make his first save of the night.
Half a chance for Stoke at the other end as they win a corner, which predictably is aimed at Crouch once again. This time he climbs above his man fairly, but plants his header well wide.
Extra time is tiring for every player, particularly in what has been a fairly high-tempo match like this one, but Flanagan must be dead on his feet. This is his first start since May 2014, yet he is still bursting down the right at every opportunity.
Having said that, this is another tired challenge from Flanagan, who has already been booked. He goes into a poor tackle on Whelan, but only a free kick is given.
STOKE SUB: The visitors make their final change of the night and it is an enforced one as Adam - who came on as a sub himself - limps off to be replaced by Marco van Ginkel.
Benteke is almost released with a long ball over the top that he takes down on his chest down the right channel. The angle is against him, however, so he turns down the chance to shoot and the attack eventually breaks down.
Good defending from Wollscheid as he negates a lack of pace by cutting off the angle for Benteke, eventually forcing him to the byline and out.
OFF THE POST! Stoke almost take the lead through Van Ginkel, who bursts into the box and collects a knockdown on his chest before brushing off Lucas and managing to get a shot away despite falling. It just beats the leg of Mignolet, but hits the outside of the post and goes behind.
There will be one minute of added time at the end of this first half of extra time.
HALF TIME IN EXTRA TIME: Liverpool 0-1 Stoke City (1-1 on aggregate)
No goals for either side in the first half of extra time, then, and we are now just 15 minutes away from penalties. Away goals do get added after extra time, remember, but that would not make a difference with the scores as they are.
Liverpool get us back underway for the final period of extra time, and the hosts have made their final change too, with Jordon Ibe
coming on for Flanagan.
What can the fresh legs of Ibe do to what is sure to be a tiring Stoke defence. Milner has dropped back to right-back following that change, incidentally, with Ibe on the right wing.
Liverpool are seeing all of the ball in this second half of extra time so far, with Stoke sitting back and just waiting for a chance to break.
Very nearly a chance for Liverpool to release Benteke as they win the ball down the right flank, but Lallana just can't lift the final ball over to his striker.
CHANCE! Liverpool are looking very tired right now. Stoke come forward down the left, with Milner and, strangely, Ibe looking out of their feet. Pieters comes forward and feeds a low cross into the box, but Sakho does enough to deny Crouch.
CHANCE! Another chance for the visitors as this time Crouch knocks the ball down to Van Ginkel, who chests it and gets a shot away, but Mignolet makes the save.
CHANCE! Chance for Liverpool now as Ibe collects the ball on the right and cuts inside, but he lacks the composure at the vital moment and blazes his shot well over when he really should have done better.
Just two minutes remain of this match now - any goal would surely be the winner here. It is Liverpool who are pushing hardest, and Benteke wins a late corner for the hosts...
Liverpool keep things alive from the second ball, but Stoke defend the situation well and the closest Liverpool come is when Moreno has a first-time volley blocked.
FULL TIME: Liverpool 0-1 Stoke City (1-1 on aggregate)
Penalties it is! There is nothing to separate the two sides over 210 minutes in this tie, and the first finalists of the 2016 League Cup will be decided via a shootout. Both have already won on penalties in this competition this season, but Stoke's record is slightly the better of the two.
Klopp has a big smile on his face ahead of this shootout - I'm sure his players won't be feeling the same! The penalties will be taken at the end with the Stoke fans, which you'd think hands a slight advantage to the visitors.
Liverpool 0-1 Stoke (Jonathan Walters) Walters kicks things off by placing his effort beautifully into the corner.
Liverpool 1-1 Stoke (Adam Lallana) Lallana goes down the middle, with plenty of power, but it smashes in to the roof of the net.
SAVED! Liverpool 1-1 Stoke Peter Crouch misses against his former club as Mignolet guesses the right way!
OFF THE POST! Liverpool 1-1 Stoke Liverpool can't take advantage, though, as Can hits the outside of the post!
GLENN WHELAN SCORES! Liverpool 1-2 Stoke Whelan tucks his penalty away nice and coolly to put Stoke back in front!
CHRISTIAN BENTEKE SCORES! Liverpool 2-2 Stoke Cool as you like from Benteke as he casually rolls it home!
IBRAHIM AFELLAY SCORES! Liverpool 2-3 Stoke Mignolet gets a hand to it, but not enough to keep it out!
ROBERTO FIRMINO SCORES! Liverpool 3-3 Stoke We're all square again as Firmino places it right into the corner.
XHERDAN SHAQIRI SCORES! Liverpool 3-4 Stoke Shaqiri sends Mignolet the wrong way. Milner must score...
JAMES MILNER SCORES! Liverpool 4-4 Stoke Brilliant penalty from Milner under pressure, right into the corner. Sudden death it is!
MARCO VAN GINKEL SCORES! Liverpool 4-5 Stoke Van Ginkel piles the pressure back on Liverpool with a good penalty.
LUCAS SCORES! Liverpool 5-5 Stoke Lucas deals with the pressure, though, sending Butland the wrong way.
SAVED! Liverpool 5-5 Stoke Brilliant save from Mignolet to deny Muniesa! Liverpool just need to score to reach Wembley, and it is Joe Allen...
JOE ALLEN SCORES! Liverpool 6-5 Stoke Right in the top corner from Allen and they have won it on penalties!
LIVERPOOL REACH THE LEAGUE CUP FINAL!
It is Liverpool who book their place in a record 12th League Cup final, then, where they will face either Manchester City or Everton on February 28. It must be said that they didn't performance particularly well on the night, with Stoke running out 1-0 winners over the 120 minutes courtesy of Arnautovic's goal, but it was the Reds who held their nerve in the shootout. Peter Crouch, Emre Can and Marc Muniesa
all missed, but only the latter was duly punished as Allen placed his spot kick right into the top corner to seal his side's place at Wembley.
That is all we have time for this evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole
for this dramatic match as Liverpool clinch a League Cup final place with a penalty shootout victory over Stoke. I will leave you with our match report
, and be sure to stick around for reaction. We also have live coverage of the second semi-final for you tomorrow, so check back in for that to see who will face Liverpool at Wembley. From me, though, it is goodbye for now!