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Saturday 22 July 2017

Long march to Wembley

Irish striker seals League Cup final place with Anfield strike

Southampton’s Shane Long (bottom) is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring his side’s first goal during the League Cup semi-final second leg match at Anfield. Photo: Getty Images
Southampton’s Shane Long (bottom) is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring his side’s first goal during the League Cup semi-final second leg match at Anfield. Photo: Getty Images

Shane Long buried Jurgen Klopp's League Cup Wembley dream when he down nailed a semi-final win for Southampton with a late winner at Anfield.

And what was seen as a mini-slump for Klopp's team is rapidly becoming something much more significant and worrying for the charismatic German.

Since they beat Manchester City 1-0 on New Year's Eve, Liverpool have won one in seven, which was a 1-0 FA Cup replay against Plymouth.

Premier League form has collapsed, underlined by a 3-2 defeat at Anfield by Swansea at the weekend and Klopp's season is now resting on the next two games - home to Wolves in the FA Cup on Saturday and then a huge clash with Chelsea next Tuesday.

Southampton boss Claude Puel celebrated the win but issued a warning to Manchester United, 2-0 up from the first leg and hot favourites to ease into the final in the second-leg against Hull City at Old Trafford tonight.

"We go to Wembley not to participate. I want to go there and win this Cup," said Puel. "It is fantastic for the squad and a good reward because they worked hard for this.

"Over the two legs we deserved it. We were fantastic at home and in this second game we defended well in the first half and held out in the second."

Klopp was understandably disappointed but frank about the result: "They won both games so of course they deserve to go to Wembley."

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