Liverpool booked their place in the Carabao Cup final as they capitalised on their first-leg advantage and held a spirited Fulham to a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage.
Luis Diaz’s opener was cancelled out by Issa Diop but the Red’s dug deep in the second leg to claim a 3-2 aggregate victory.
Liverpool will face Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea at Wembley on February 25, two years after defeating the Blues in both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup finals.
A fired up Fulham came out of the blocks fighting as they looked to overturn a 2-1 deficit.
After Joao Palhinha’s first-time volley from Andreas Pereira’s corner sailed over, the hosts continued to push through the overlapping Antonee Robinson whose dangerous delivery failed to connect with a white shirt.
But a moment of complacency saw Liverpool strike the first blow in the 11th minute.
Jarell Quansah sent a long ball forward which appeared routine for Timothy Castagne to claim but the full-back was caught napping by Diaz.
The winger reacted quickly to beat him in the air before he drove into the box and scored past Bernd Leno at his near post.
Diaz had the ball in the back of the net again after Darwin Nunez exploited large gaps between centre-backs Tosin Adarabioyo and Diop but the goal was ruled offside after the striker naively moved too soon.
The Cottagers sought inspiration through Raul Jimenez and the Mexico international’s long-range shot forced Caoimhin Kelleher into action when he tipped the ball wide for a corner.
The hosts, now galvanised, enjoyed a five-minute flurry but despite Willian’s attempt from distance and Tom Cairney finding promising pockets, Marco Silva’s men failed to get the goal they desperately needed.
Fulham’s momentum continued after the break but so did their poor day in front of goal. Second-choice keeper Kelleher failed to collect a high ball, losing out to Bobby Decordova-Reid before Pereira found the post from a tight angle instead of the open net.
Liverpool appeared to have rode the storm and began to turn the screw themselves. After Nunez’s effort whistled past Leno’s left post in the 63rd minute, powerful midfielder Ryan Gravenberch did well to get the ball out of his feet before producing a driven strike which missed the target, much to the delight of Leno who would have been well-beaten.
Fulham blew the tie wide open when they scored in the 77th minute.
Harry Wilson drove down the left and curved a cross into the area where he found Diop, who had galloped forward from the back and expertly claimed the leveller with a neat finish past the keeper.
The west Londoners pushed for a dramatic ending and to take the tie into extra-time but a stubborn Liverpool held on through four added minutes.
Published: by Radio NewsHub