Liverpool’s League Cup History…

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By Lewis Thompson

Liverpool holds the record for the most League Cup final wins out of any other teams in England, winning the competition nine times.

The Football League Cup was first held in the 1960-61 season, specifically as a tournament that would take place on evenings mid-week following the introduction of floodlights at most senior stadiums during the late 1950s.

Aston Villa were the inaugural winners of the League Cup, but it didn’t take long for the Reds to engrave their name on the trophy when they won it for the first time in 1981 – and subsequently won it on three further occasions consecutively the following years.

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The First

In 1981, 100,000 people watched West Ham face a Liverpool side who would dominate the 80s at Wembley Stadium.

It wasn’t the first League Cup final for the Reds, having lost 1-0 to Nottingham Forest in 1978 at Old Trafford during the replay of their initial final.

Neither side could be separated in 90 minutes until Alan Kennedy’s half-volley put Liverpool 1-0 up in the 118th minute of extra-time.

The goal didn’t come without controversy, however, as Kennedy’s original shot skimmed over Sammy Lee, who had just clattered to the floor trying to win a header and looked to be obstructing the view of Phil Parkes in nets for the Hammers.

But, referee Clive Thomas awarded the goal, even though the linesman had originally given it as offside, and Liverpool were on the way to their first-ever League Cup triumph.

That was until Alvin Martin’s header was saved off the line by the hand of Terry McDermott, like Luis Suarez’s handball in the 2010 World Cup against Ghana – that is exactly what McDermott pulled off at Wembley.

Ray Stewart’s penalty then brought West Ham level in the 120th minute and the game was over, as in those days the finals went to a replay after extra-time, not penalties.

The replay was at Villa Park and Paul Goddard put the Hammers in the lead early on, before Kenny Dalglish’s equaliser and Alan Hansen’s deflected header made it 2-1.

No goals were scored in the second half and Liverpool won the League Cup for the first time, in a season when they also went on to lift the European Cup for the fourth time beating Real Madrid 1-0 in Paris.

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80s Domination

The 1980s marked a period of unparalleled dominance for the Reds as they embarked on competition runs that secured the undying love from many fans towards the club for the rest of their lives.

During this time, Bob Paisley’s side were reminiscent of a modern-day Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola in terms of their consistent domestic supremacy.

Liverpool were back at Wembley again in 1982, as Ronnie Whelan and Ian Rush’s extra-time goals secured the Reds their second successive League Cup in a 3-1 win over Spurs.

Then, number three came against old rivals Manchester United, as the two best-supported clubs in the country contested for the season’s first major domestic prize.

Kennedy cancelled out 17-year-old Norman Whiteside’s opener for United before Whelan produced an unbelievable curling effort in the eighth minute of extra-time to give Liverpool the lead.

It was the 11th time in seven seasons that Paisley had brought the Reds to Wembley, as Liverpool went on to lift their third successive League Cup.

A Merseyside derby took place at Maine Road, the old home of Manchester City, in the 1984 League Cup final replay – the Reds had the chance to win their fourth in a row.

The initial final against Everton was a dour affair at Wembley, with both sides goalless after 120 minutes of football.

In the replay on 25 March, Graeme Souness scored the only goal in Manchester, as Joe Fagan’s Reds won the League Cup again, making it three consecutive finals in which they had defeated that season’s eventual FA Cup winners.

Later that year, Bruce Grobbelaar’s penalty heroics secured Liverpool their second European Cup in four years, as they beat Roma on penalties in the Stadio Olimpico, Rome.

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The Treble

Three years later, Liverpool were back at Wembley with King Kenny at the helm.

Jan Molby and Steve McMahon started on the day, but it was George Graham’s Arsenal who were victorious, as they turned over a one-goal deficit to lift their first-ever League Cup.

The Reds had been beaten in a game for the first time that Ian Rush scored the first goal in – ending a 144-match unbeaten streak.

As we progressed into the 90s, Liverpool reached their seventh League Cup final in 1995 as they faced Bolton, who were appearing in their first.

Steve McManaman’s brace propelled Roy Evans’ side to victory in a 2-0 win, meaning Rush had won the competition for the fifth time in his career – a record at the time.

Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium hosted Liverpool’s next League Cup triumph, marking the first time the venue had welcomed the competition’s final following the closure of Wembley for a six-year redevelopment.

Robbie Fowler scored the only Reds goal of the game in 2001, as Gerard Houllier’s side lifted their first major trophy in six years, winning 5-4 on penalties against First Division side Birmingham City.

That season, Liverpool would go on to complete a treble as they won the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup, beating Alaves 5-4 in extra-time on the golden goal rule.



At the turn of the new century, it was a repeat of the 83’ final as Liverpool faced United in their ninth League Cup final.

In an ear-splitting atmosphere under the closed roof in Cardiff, Steven Gerrard opened the scoring when his shot deflected off David Beckham and looped over Fabien Barthez in goal.

At the opposite end, Jerzy Dudek was praised for his performance between the sticks in 2003, as Michael Owen’s second-half goal sealed the deal for the Reds to lift their seventh League Cup.

Two years later, Jose Mourinho was aiming for his first trophy in charge of Chelsea in the first-ever major cup final between the two sides. John Arne Riise’s rocket handed Liverpool the lead after one minute, it was the quickest-ever League Cup final goal at the time.

Gerrard’s headed own goal brought the game level before the west London club scored another two in extra-time, through Didier Drogba and Mateja Kezman.

The original Liverpool Nunez, Antonio Nunez, scored a consolation goal for the Reds with seven minutes left as the match finished 3-2.

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Record Holders

Liverpool then had to wait seven years to lift the trophy again when they faced Championship side Cardiff, who were appearing in their first-ever League Cup final.

Cardiff took the lead courtesy of Joe Mason’s first-half goal, and the scoreline remained 1-0 until Martin Skrtel equalised in the 60th minute.

Kenny Dalglish’s side thought they had won it when Dirk Kuyt scored three minutes into the second half of extra-time, but Ben Turner sent the Welsh fans into ecstasy when his late equaliser made it 2-2.

Gerrard missed Liverpool’s first penalty, but it was his cousin Anthony Gerrard’s miss that ultimately handed the Reds their record eight League Cup.

Fast forward to 2022, with City having caught up with Liverpool in terms of League Cup wins, Liverpool once again faced Chelsea at Wembley.

I’m sure your minds will be well up to scratch with how that one ended up, or perhaps where Kepa Arrizabalag’s 22nd penalty ended up?!


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