Premier League • England

Liverpool hero told he ‘scared the living daylights’ out of Kepa, as Chelsea stopper speaks out on howler

Kepa Arrizabalaga, Edouard Mendy Chelsea v Liverpool February 2022

Caoimhin Kelleher set Kepa Arrizabalaga up for failure in the Carabao Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea because of his excellent penalty, one pundit has said.

The Reds’ Republic of Ireland international stopper started Sunday’s Wembley showpiece following his excellent record earlier in the tournament. He played four of Liverpool’s six games on the way to glory. One of those saw him star in the penalty-shootout win over Leicester in the quarter-finals.

As a result, Kelleher kept his place at Wembley and did not disappoint. The 23-year-old saved a Kai Havertz effort in the first half, but then did the damage in the spot kicks with his feet.

While neither goalkeeper saved a penalty, Kelleher – who used to play outfield in his youth – slotted his penalty to make it 11-10 to Liverpool.

And Kepa then blazed his effort over to send the Liverpool fans at that end of the ground into ecstasy. According to Garth Crooks, Kelleher deserves praise for his standout back-up role when required.

The pundit wrote in his BBC Sport Team of the Week column: “I must say, whenever I’ve seen Caoimhin Kelleher play in goal for Liverpool he looks totally unflappable.

“He goes about his job as if saving goals is the least important thing on his mind and yet I can’t ever remember seeing the Republic of Ireland international let Liverpool down.

“The Carabao Cup final is like any final, full of tension and anxiety. But for Kelleher it seemed like a training session.

Kelleher lauded for Liverpool role

“I’m sure it wasn’t but throughout this brilliant football match Kelleher didn’t only keep his nerve but actually won Liverpool the match.”

In fact, Crooks added that Kelleher’s penalty proved mentally decisive for Kepa subsequently missing.

“I don’t think I have ever seen anything quite like it,” the pundit added.

“A goalkeeper taking the final penalty in a shootout and burying it so comprehensively in the back of the net must have scared the living daylights out of Kepa Arrizabalaga because he missed his.”

Kepa did not start the Carabao Cup final, with Edouard Mendy instead impressing in the 120 minutes before penalties.

As such, the fact that Kepa came on and ultimately lost Chelsea the final sparked backlash from Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp.

Kepa speaks out on Chelsea miss

Kepa Arrizabalaga preparing for a penalty shootout for Chelsea

Writing on Twitter, Spain international Kepa said: “To fall and rise. Disappointed after big effort during the tournament.

“We keep working. Thanks Chelsea family for your support.”

Chelsea must now pick themselves up and go again in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Wednesday. They play Luton Town looking to reach the quarter-finals.

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Liverpool, having claimed League Cup glory, are also still in the FA Cup. Jurgen Klopp’s side face Norwich at Anfield in their last 16 tie on Wednesday.

Kelleher could start again for the Reds following his cup heroics at Wembley.