Mauricio Pochettino explains why Chelsea lost Carabao Cup final

  • Chelsea squandered a glut of clear chances against Liverpool
  • Virgil van Dijk's 118th-minute header decided an entertaining final
  • Pochettino is still waiting for his first trophy in English football

Mauricio Pochettino (centre) couldn't earn his first trophy as Chelsea boss on Sunday
Mauricio Pochettino (centre) couldn't earn his first trophy as Chelsea boss on Sunday / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

A rueful Mauricio Pochettino fretted over Chelsea's squandered opportunities after a "painful" defeat to Liverpool in Sunday's Carabao Cup final.

The Blues carved open five of what Opta define as 'big chances' - i.e. "a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score" - but were thwarted by Liverpool's second-choice goalkeeper, Caoimhin Kelleher when they didn't miss the target. Pochettino counted even more.

"We created four, five, six big chances and we didn't score," the visibly deflated coach sighed when speaking to Sky Sports after losing Sunday's final to Virgil van Dijk's last-gasp header. "In a game like today and in a final to score first, it is a big advantage.

"We didn't score and that is a bit of a problem. We conceded in the last minute and it is difficult to react."

Kelleher got a strong arm to Cole Palmer's close-range effort in the 20th minute and watched on helplessly as Conor Gallagher struck the post after the break. A combination of the Irish keeper and his retreating rearguard blocked three Chelsea efforts in a matter of seconds at the end of normal time before Malo Gusto blazed wide in a bonkers sequence.

"I think we really competed [but] if you don't score with chances we had it's difficult to win the final," Pochettino summarised. "That is why, we lost [the] final. We need to be clinical in front of goal and we congratulate Liverpool and keep going."

Pochettino is still searching for his maiden trophy in English football. The Argentine coach lost the 2015 EFL Cup final while in charge of Tottenham Hotspur against Chelsea. Pochettino's Spurs were also beaten by Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool in the 2019 Champions League final.

Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville christened Pochettino's side "blue billion pound bottlejobs" after Van Dijk delivered the victorious blow for an understrength Liverpool outfit in the 118th minute.

Pochettino was quick to point out that his expensively assembled squad was also stripped of several key players through injury.

Those who did make the Wembley showpiece gloomily collected their runners-up medals while Chelsea's travelling support made a beeline for the exit. Pochettino encouraged his inexperienced group to remember the unpleasant sensation of defeat. "They [the players] are professional, they need to feel the pain," he insisted. "We played for a trophy we didn't get. They need to feel the pain like us.

"The players feel the disappointment because we were so close to winning the game after 90 minutes."

Even when looking ahead to Chelsea's FA Cup fifth-round tie against Championship side Leeds United on Wednesday night, Pochettino wasn't able to detach from his side's wastefulness. "The way you lose is so painful but now we need to keep going keep moving," he said. "They scored and we didn't score."