Liverpool’s dramatic penalty shootout victory over Arsenal sealed their place in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup after 10 goals were scored in a thrilling contest at Anfield.
Celebrations broke out in front of the Kop after Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, 20, saved Dani Ceballos’ penalty to seal a 5-4 shootout win.
Divock Origi’s 94th-minute scissor kick sent the game to penalties after Liverpool had twice come from behind to draw level.
Arsenal’s Joe Willock thought he had given his side a memorable victory with a sensational long-range strike in the second half but there was more to come on an unforgettable night at Anfield.
The celebrations were wild from Liverpool’s players at full-time as teenager Curtis Jones coolly thumped the final penalty in off the post to make it five from five in front of the Kop.
Arsenal were minutes away from victory after Willock’s stunning long-range effort had put them 5-4 up, before Origi pulled off what seemed the inevitable in stoppage time.
Liverpool led just once during the match and that was after five minutes when Shkodran Mustafi slid in and diverted the ball into his own net.
Midfielder Mesut Ozil, given just his third start of the season, then set-up Bukayo Saka, whose shot was rebounded in by Lucas Torreira to make it 1-1.
Teenager Gabriel Martinelli continued his impressive goalscoring form, pouncing on a loose ball at the near post before slotting in from Saka’s pass to make it 3-1 to Arsenal.
But Liverpool cut their lead to one goal on the stroke of half-time through James Milner’s penalty after Harvey Elliott – who became the youngest Liverpool player to start at Anfield (16 years, 209 days) – went down in the box under minimal contact from Martinelli.
It took just nine minutes for the goals to start flowing again in the second half, when Milner uncharacteristically gave the ball away in his own area and Ozil teed up Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fired in an excellent long-range effort for Liverpool and Origi’s smart turn and powerful finish made it 4-4 – all this before Willock and Origi’s late goals left the teams level at 5-5.
Liverpool will find out their quarter-final opponents when the draw takes place at 08:45 GMT on Thursday, live on BBC Radio 2.
Young boys deliver thriller
This had everything.
From long-range goals, to Origi’s injury-time equaliser and Kelleher’s heroic penalty save – it was another thrilling encounter between two sides who have produced the highest-scoring fixture in this competition.
Excitement was evident before kick-off – fans pouring over social media to discuss the young talent given an opportunity to impress.
There were four teenagers named in Liverpool’s starting XI – their youngest in any competition since January 2017 with an average age of 23 years and 122 days – and they were involved in some of the magical moments.
Sixteen-year-old Elliott won a penalty, academy product Neco Williams, 18, set-up Origi’s stoppage-time equaliser and fellow home-grown teenager Curtis Jones netted Liverpool’s winning spot-kick in the shootout.
The young Reds celebrated in a manner befitting the chaotic emotions fans felt throughout the match, but it was a heavy blow for Arsenal who also had several impressive individual performances.
Brazilian Martinelli, who signed a long-term contract with the Gunners this summer, netted his sixth and seventh goals of the season and Ozil was instrumental on a rare start.
Origi lives for big moments
While the young players impressed, a Liverpool comeback at Anfield would not be complete without Origi.
The Belgian lives for the big moments and his two goals in the second half – a slick turn and strike and an exquisite scissor kick volley – always seemed likely.
Origi secured legendary status among Liverpool fans last season when he scored the winning goal on aggregate against Barcelona in their Champions League semi-final second leg.
He then secured Liverpool’s victory in the final against Tottenham, putting his side 2-0 up with three minutes to go.
And after his heroics at Anfield on Wednesday night, the home fans sang his name as the players prepared for the penalty shootout.
Ozil must start for Arsenal
Ozil has been out of favour with manager Unai Emery but took his chance on Wednesday having not appeared in Arsenal’s last seven games.
The midfielder brought quality, experience and creativity to the team and was involved in two of their five goals.
Arsenal’s results in the Premier League this season have been inconsistent and his exclusion has been a mystery but Emery admitted he was “back helping us with his quality and his spirit” at Anfield.
The Gunners sit 12 points behind league leaders Liverpool and after Sunday’s disappointing draw with Crystal Palace – the second time in as many games they have dropped points from winning positions – surely a return to the starting line-up for Ozil isn’t too far away.
‘What they did – I lost it!’ – the managers’ reactions
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on Sky Sports: “We made some mistakes, we played some average passes. We were too open at times. We can talk about tactics but who cares on a night like this? I hoped for the boys they would have a game to remember. What they did – I lost it really!
“It’s like a dream to play for the first time at Anfield, but things might not be going right and you have to stay on track. All our goals we scored were wonderful. If you don’t win nobody remembers it in three years, if it works out the boys will remember it forever.
“[Curtis] Jones… it was not my decision in the end for him to take the last penalty. When I saw the list, Origi was the taker of the last one and they changed it obviously.”
Arsenal manager Unai Emery on Sky Sports: “It was a crazy match. I am very proud of [the players’ work], we had a high rhythm in the first 45 minutes. At the end we were winning until the last action. Penalties are 50/50 and we lost.
“We are sad but our work, we deserve to have more. There are lots of positives to take. Defensively, both teams cannot be happy with that. But for the supporters it was an amazing 90 minutes. The result was always changing. It was spectacular.”
Goals, goals, goals – the best of the stats
-Liverpool conceded five goals in a home match for only the second time in the last 66 years – the other occasion was also against Arsenal, in a 6-3 defeat in the League Cup in January 2007.
-This was the highest-scoring match in the League Cup since a 6-6 draw between Dagenham & Redbridge and Brentford in August 2014.
-This was the highest-scoring draw between two Premier League teams since West Brom and Manchester United drew 5-5 in May 2013 in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game in charge.
Liverpool have won more penalty shootouts in the League Cup than any other team in the history of the competition (eight).
Only two Premier League teams have conceded more home goals in all competitions this season than Liverpool (13 goals conceded) – Norwich City (14) and Southampton (19).
-This was the first time a team managed by Jurgen Klopp have conceded five goals in a home game since September 2009, when his Borussia Dortmund side lost 5-1 to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.