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Liverpool stages second-half recovery to beat Fulham in first leg of English League Cup semis

Liverpool players celebrate Liverpool players celebrate - The Canadian Press

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool staged a second-half fightback and scored twice in a three-minute span to beat Fulham 2-1 in the first leg of the English League Cup semifinals on Wednesday.

With second-tier Middlesbrough defeating Chelsea 1-0 on Tuesday in the first of the semifinals, another upset looked on when Fulham took the lead at Anfield through Willian in the 19th minute after Virgil van Dijk failed to make a clearing header.

Liverpool’s attacking threat was limited in the first half without Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is injured, and Mohamed Salah, who is away with Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations.

A double-substitution in the 55th saw Darwin Núñez and Cody Gakpo enter and it proved decisive, with Núñez having a hand in both of Liverpool’s goals and Gakpo scoring one of them.

After Núñez's layoff, Curtis Jones equalized with a shot that took a vicious deflection off the back of Tosin Adarabioyo and looped into the corner past stranded goalkeeper Bernd Leno in the 68th.

Núñez then crossed for Gakpo to sweep home a finish in the 71st, handing Liverpool the advantage ahead of the second leg at Fulham’s Craven Cottage on Jan. 24. The Reds could have been taking a bigger lead to London but Leno saved brilliantly at the feet of Núñez in the 89th.

The victory comes three days after another second-half recovery at Arsenal, where Liverpool won 2-0 in the FA Cup.

“It’s the mentality in the group, in the club,” Gakpo said. "In the city, everything is like this. The mentality is to keep going, that it doesn’t matter what has happened.

“If you have that mentality, a lot of beautiful things can happen.”

Fulham was competing in the semifinals for the first time in its 144-year history, while Liverpool — a record nine-time winner of the competition — was looking to reach the final for a record-extending 14th time.


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