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Soccer-Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham reach League Cup semi-finals

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By Reuters
Soccer-Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham reach League Cup semi-finals
Soccer-Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham reach League Cup semi-finals   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021   -  

<div> <p>By Martyn Herman</p> <p><span class="caps">LONDON</span> – A much-changed Chelsea side featuring three teenaged debutants beat Brentford 2-0 on Wednesday to reach the League Cup semi-finals where they will face London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.</p> <p>An own goal 10 minutes from time by Pontus Jansson broke the deadlock at Brentford before a Jorginho penalty sealed victory for Thomas Tuchel’s <span class="caps">COVID</span>-hit side.</p> <p>In a thriller at Anfield, a weakened Liverpool side came back from the brink to beat Leicester City on penalties after a 3-3 draw, setting up a semi-final against Arsenal.</p> <p>Jamie Vardy’s early double gave Leicester a 2-0 lead and James Maddison’s rocket shot made it 3-1 after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had pulled a goal back.</p> <p>But Diogo Jota struck in the 68th minute before Takumi Minamino levelled in the sixth minute of stoppage time.</p> <p>Minamino then spurned a chance to send Liverpool through in the ensuing penalty shoot-out as he blazed his effort over the bar. But Liverpool keeper Caoimhin Kelleher then saved Ryan Bertrand’s effort, his second save of the shoot-out, before Jota converted to win it for Liverpool.</p> <p>Antonio Conte’s Tottenham, runners-up to Manchester City last season, made it through to the semis with a 2-1 home win against West Ham United — all the goals arriving in a five-minute spell in the first half.</p> <p>Steven Bergwijn slotted in from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s cut back for his first goal of the season but West Ham levelled through Jarrod Bowen’s well-taken goal.</p> <p>Bergwijn then set up Lucas Moura for the winner.</p> <p>Arsenal beat third-tier Sunderland on Tuesday.</p> <p>“It’s good for Tottenham to reach the semi-finals of this competition,” Conte, who has changed the mood at Tottenham since taking over, said.</p> <p>“You can see the names of these teams that have reached the semi-finals — Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal with us — so every side wants to try to lift this trophy. Now I’m seeing in England to win a trophy is very difficult.”</p> <p>Considering the strain on their respective squads, the night’s ties offered full value for the fans.</p> <p>Chelsea made eight changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Wolverhampton Wanderers at the weekend with manager Tuchel handing debuts to academy players Harvey Vale, Jude Soonsup-Bell and Xavier Simons.</p> <p>Tuchel did later introduce regulars Jorginho, Reece James, Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount and N’Golo Kante off the bench and it proved decisive for Chelsea.</p> <p>It was a cross from the right from James that Jansson sliced into his own goal and Jorginho then tucked away a trademark spot kick. </p> <p>“It was a brilliant result given the circumstances, the line-up and the situation,” Tuchel said. “Some of the guys who played were youngsters and the other guys had not many minutes, but they stepped up in a tough place.”</p> <p>Liverpool made 10 changes to the side that started the 2-2 draw with Tottenham on Sunday with only Tyler Morton remaining.</p> <p>And when Vardy scored twice inside the opening 13 minutes it seemed Juergen Klopp’s side were on the way out.</p> <p>But Minamino sent the tie to penalties with a superbly-taken goal and stand-in keeper Kelleher proved the hero with two saves to break Leicester’s hearts.</p> <p>“I am really, really happy. Really happy with the performance, with the spirit, with the mentality, in a lot of moments with the football,” Klopp said.</p> <p>The semi-finals are scheduled for two legs in January, although Klopp says in the current circumstances he would prefer just one game.</p> <p>“I think it would be better with one game, absolutely, but obviously what I say is not too important, so if there are two games then we play two games,” he said.</p> <p/> </div>