Liverpool booked their place in the Carabao Cup final with a 2-0 win over Arsenal in the second-leg at the Emirates.
After a 0-0 draw at Anfield last week it was all to play for, but the visitors took control with Jota’s first-half strike.
The Liverpool forward was on target again late in the match as he put the tie beyond doubt, before Thomas Partey was shown two yellow cards in a matter of minutes and sent-off, as Jurgen Klopp’s side set up a Wembley final against Chelsea in late February.
After the north London derby was postponed last Sunday due to Arsenal being without so many players, Mikel Arteta would have been relieved to have a strong starting lineup available. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Martin Odegaard returned to the team, while Thomas Partey was named on the bench despite returning from Cameroon just hours earlier.
Five minutes into the match, Bukayo Saka was brought down on the edge of the box. Alexandre Lacazette stepped up and clipped a lovely effort over the wall, but Caoimhin Kelleher got a brilliant touch to tip it onto the bar.
Liverpool gradually grew into it, and Joel Matip thought he’d got the opener. The centre-back turned in Fabinho’s initial header from close range, but the offside flag went up.
The visitors got their goal after 19 minutes. Roberto Firmino flicked it wonderfully to Trent Alexander-Arnold on the halfway line and Liverpool were away. It came out to Jota, who nutmegged Tomiyasu as he cut inside and although his shot from the edge of the box was a scuffed one, that worked in his favour as it wrong-footed Aaron Ramsdale and rolled into the net.
There wasn’t much action for the rest of the half, as Liverpool dominated possession and Arsenal struggled to find the intensity they had in the opening stages that had rushed their opponents.
Just a few minutes after the break, Albert Sambi Lokonga lifted the ball over the top to Lacazette who brought it down and only had Kelleher to beat, but he poked it over the bar.
Liverpool had a huge chance of their own shortly after, as Jota skipped past Ben White before cutting it back Kaide Gordon. The 17-year-old fluffed his lines from six-yards as he too blazed over.
Ibrahima Konate, introduced at half-time, got up well at a corner and sent a towering header at goal but he was denied by the post, as Arsenal battled to stay in the tie.
With just under 15 minutes, Jota ran onto a ball over the top and lobbed Ramsdale with a lovely finish. The offside flag went up as he wheeled away in celebration, but after a VAR review the goal was eventually given and the Portuguese forward had his and Liverpool’s second.
There was to be one more blow for Arsenal, as Partey was shown a yellow card and less than three minutes later lunged into a tackle on Fabinho. He was late, and just over nine hours after returning to England from the Africa Cup of Nations, the midfielder was sent-off.
The defeat means Arsenal will end the season without silverware, while Liverpool are still competing on several fronts as they target another memorable campaign under Klopp.