Liverpool survived an almighty scare in the League Cup on Wednesday, edging fourth-tier Carlisle United on penalties, while Sheffield Wednesday dumped Newcastle United out of the tournament.
Carlisle, the lowest-ranked team in the competition, took Liverpool to penalties at Anfield after the game finished 1-1 following extra time, Derek Asamoah having cancelled out Danny Ings’ 23rd-minute opener.
Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho both saw penalties saved by Mark Gillespie, but reserve goalkeeper Adam Bogdan parried the decisive spot-kick from Carlisle’s French forward Bastien Hery to earn Liverpool a 3-2 shootout win and spare manager Brendan Rodgers a humiliating exit.
“There were big sighs of relief in that dressing room and the players are extremely happy,” said Liverpool assistant manager Gary McAllister, who stood in for Rodgers in the post-match press conference. “It’s a good night in that we’re through to the next round, but we want to perform better and that’s what we’re striving to do.”
Liverpool followed Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City in going through and will host Bournemouth in round four.
But while they avoided a defeat that would have recalled their elimination on penalties by Northampton Town at the same stage of the competition five years ago, it was not a result that will enhance Rodgers’ position amid speculation about his future at the club.
Liverpool’s inefficiency was demonstrated by a shot count that read 47-5 in their favour, while both centre-back Dejan Lovren and forward Roberto Firmino were forced off by injury during the game.
Newcastle’s Steve McClaren is another manager feeling the heat after his side, who have won none of their first five Premier League games, lost 0-1 at home to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday.
Lewis McGugan scored the only goal, beating Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul with a low shot from outside the box in the 76th minute to send Sheffield Wednesday into round four for the first time since they reached the semi-finals in 2001-02.
“We’re very angry, very disappointed, but nobody can do anything about it but us,” said McClaren. “We have to turn it around. We have to draw a line in the sand and say how far do you have to go?”
Sheffield Wednesday’s reward was a home tie with Arsenal, who overcame Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the north London derby, thanks to a brace from unlikely match-winner Mathieu Flamini.
Arsenal, who made 10 changes to Spurs’ eight, took a 26th-minute lead when French holding midfielder Flamini followed in to score after Michel Vorm parried a long-range shot by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Spurs were rewarded for a spell of sustained pressure when Calum Chambers poked Nacer Chadli’s cross into his own net in the 56th minute, only for Flamini to give Arsenal victory 12 minutes from time with a superb low volley from just outside the box.
“We responded very well physically and mentally and when we stay with 11 players, we can win games,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, in a nod to his side’s recent disciplinary problems.
Holders Chelsea continued their recent revival by winning 4-1 at third-tier Walsall to record a third consecutive victory.
Missing Diego Costa, who began a three-game ban for striking Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny at the weekend, but with captain John Terry back in the team, Chelsea won through with goals from Ramires, Loic Remy, full debutant Kenedy and Pedro Rodriguez.
Jose Mourinho’s side will visit Stoke City in the fourth round.
Meanwhile, Anthony Martial’s assured start to life at Manchester United continued as the French striker scored his fourth goal in three games in a 3-0 victory against second-tier Ipswich Town at Old Trafford.
Wayne Rooney and 19-year-old Brazilian Andreas Pereira, with a stylish free-kick, were also on target for Louis van Gaal’s team, who will host second-tier Middlesbrough in round four.
“He did it against Liverpool (coming off the bench to score) and now again,” said van Gaal of 19-year-old Martial. “We are happy, but still we have to keep our feet on the ground.”
Elsewhere, Jay Rodriguez, Sadio Mane and Shane Long all scored twice as Southampton swept into round four with a 6-0 rout of second-tier Milton Keynes Dons, who conquered Manchester United in last season’s competition.
Dwight Gayle claimed a hat-trick, including two penalties, as Crystal Palace beat Charlton Athletic 4-1, while Norwich City beat top-flight rivals West Bromwich Albion 3-0 courtesy of goals from Matt Jarvis, Kyle Lafferty and a Sebastien Pocognoli own goal.