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Liverpool rally to beat Fulham in semifinal 1st leg

Curtis Jones and Cody Gakpo scored three minutes apart as Liverpool fought back from a goal down to beat Fulham 2-1 in the first leg of their League Cup semifinal at a chilly Anfield on Wednesday.

Fulham took a first-half lead with a goal from Willian and then sat back and looked to hit Liverpool on the break, frustrating Juergen Klopp's side until the 68th minute when Jones and then Gakpo struck in quick succession.

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"It's the mentality in the group, in the club, in the city, just keep going and it doesn't matter what happens and we showed that again today," Gakpo told Sky Sports. "If you have that mentality a lot of things can happen."

Fulham threatened to hand the record nine-time League Cup winners their first home defeat across all competitions this season after Willian scored in the 19th minute. Capitalising on Virgil van Dijk's poor clearance, the Brazilian slotted home from the edge of the six-yard box between keeper Caoimhin Kelleher's legs.

"It wasn't our best game we ever played. I told the boys we are human beings," Klopp said.

Premier League-leading Liverpool dominated possession and finally got the better of Fulham's well-organised back line when Jones netted, his shot from 25 metres out taking a big deflection off the back of Tosin Adarabioyo.

Substitute Gakpo, who has scored in all four of his League Cup games for Liverpool, fired the home team in front in the 71st, tapping in Darwin Núñez's cross at the near post to send fans home happy after they extended their remarkable home record this season to 14 victories and two draws.

Darwin Núñez played a part in both Liverpool goals to beat Fulham.

Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

"In the first half it was tough, we had all the ball but couldn't find the back of the net and in the second half we changed that around," Jones told Sky Sports. "The fans are leaving with smiles on their faces so I'm happy."

Klopp's side had 21 shots to Fulham's six, and the addition of Gakpo and Núñez in the second half made all the difference.

"[Jones] got a very important goal to get us back in the game and after that I felt we really dominated, not only with possession but creating chances and then the second so I was happy," Gakpo said.

"I love playing with these guys. We showed good mentality and have to keep going as it's only the first leg of this game."

Liverpool were missing talisman Mohamed Salah, the Premier League's joint top scorer this season who is with Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Trent Alexander-Arnold, who injured his knee in Sunday's FA Cup third-round win over Arsenal.

Klopp praised the "exceptional" performance of 20-year-old Conor Bradley, who started in defence in place of Alexander-Arnold.

"He will probably fall asleep in the dressing room," Klopp said. "Wonderful, what a boy, what a character. Everyone loves him."

Liverpool will travel to Craven Cottage for the second leg on Jan. 24.

"We knew it was going to be a tough one. You can't play for a final thinking it's not going to be really hard," said Fulham manager Marco Silva, whose Cottagers are making their League Cup semifinal debut.

"At home, with our fans behind us, it's going to be a great night for Fulham Football Club."

Chelsea suffered a surprise 1-0 loss at second-tier Middlesbrough in the first leg of the other semifinal on Tuesday.

    

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