Liverpool survived a dramatic comeback by Notts County before eventually progressing into the third round of the Capital One Cup with a 4-2 win after extra time. After winning both their opening Premier League matches, Brendan Rodgers’s side appeared to be cruising past their League One opponents when Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge put them 2-0 up just before the half-hour mark. But the visitors stunned the Anfield crowd when, after Yoann Arquin pulled one back, Adam Coombes equalized with six minutes remaining.
Liverpool suffered a further blow in injury time when Kolo Toure was stretchered off to add to the earlier injuries of Aly Cissokho, Joe Allen and Luis Alberto, meaning that the Premier League outfit were forced to play with 10 men. Yet, despite their numerical advantage, Liverpool finally ended Notts County’s dream as Sturridge and then Jordan Henderson sent them through.
Rodgers will be relieved to have progressed, but it certainly came at a cost. Not only were Liverpool forced to play an unwanted extra 30 minutes ahead of a clash with rivals Manchester United on Sunday, but he will be left to count the cost of several injuries, of which Toure’s appeared the most severe.
It looked like it would be a very different night when Sterling put the hosts ahead after just four minutes. The pacey young winger, perhaps boosted by being selected in the latest England squad announced earlier in the day, picked up the ball 40 yards from goal and was allowed to drift forward before skillfully maneuvering through two challenges and finishing coolly into the net.
That scoreline could have been further added to, with both Daniel Agger and Steven Gerrard striking the woodwork either side of the second goal. Sturridge was again lethal in front of goal and got his first of the evening in the 29th minute. Gerrard picked out Sturridge superbly with a low pass into the box and the forward continued his hot streak by drilling a shot emphatically into the far corner.
But Chris Kiwomya’s side refused to go down without a fight. In the 62nd minute, a free-kick lofted toward the edge of the box was flicked on and Arquin got above two Liverpool defenders to head powerfully past Simon Mignolet.
Things would get even better soon after. Just two minutes after coming on as a substitute, Coombes was on hand when the ball bounced through to him at the far post and the young forward struck it into the net to force extra time.
Toure’s injury gave Notts County a real chance to pull off a memorable upset too. Instead, Liverpool showed their quality to finally see of their opponents. First, in injury time of the opening period of 15 minutes, Sturridge struck on the break with a shot that County keeper Bartosz Bialkowski will be disappointed not to have kept out. And then 10 minutes before the end Henderson burst through a flimsy defense to this time secure victory.