LONDON (AFP) – Mario Balotelli scored just his second goal for Liverpool in 12 appearances as they came from behind to beat Premier League rivals Swansea 2-1 and advance into the last eight of the League Cup at Anfield on Tuesday.
Balotelli has struggled since his US$26 million pre-season move from AC Milan and on Tuesday he was on the bench until 11 minutes from time.
When the Italian striker was sent on by Reds boss Brendan Rodgers – a former Swansea manager — Liverpool were 1-0 behind after Marvin Emnes’ goal had broken the deadlock in the 65th minute.
But four minutes from time Balotelli demonstrated excellent movement to get clear of the visitors’ defence and guide the ball past Swans goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel.
Then, with extra-time looming, Swansea’s Federico Fernandez was controversially sent off for a challenge on Philippe Coutinho.
And in the fifth minute of stoppage-time, Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren got on the end of Coutinho’s free-kick to head home the winner.
Premier League leaders Chelsea survived a scare before seeing off fourth-tier Shrewsbury 2-1.
Jermaine Grandison’s own goal broke home side Shrewsbury’s hearts with nine minutes left when he turned in Willian’s cross.
Shrewsbury kept the game goalless for more than half the match until Didier Drogba finished from close range in the 48th minute for his third goal in as many matches and in three different competitions.
But Shrewsbury refused to be daunted and substitute Andy Mangan equalised just 84 seconds after coming on in the 75th minute before Grandison’s unlucky intervention decided the match. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was adamant he always expected a tough match.
“I didn’t change my feelings (that) the game was going to be difficult,” he told Sky Sports. “It was difficult from minute one to the last minute.”
Proud Shrews boss Micky Mellon added: “I just said to the players there, if someone would have said that we would have felt gutted and disappointed at the end of a game against Chelsea, we probably would have taken that emotion because it meant we would have been pleased, but we’re gutted because we lost it on little bits of detail.”
However, Chelsea’s top-flight rivals West Bromwich Albion were knocked out by in-form Championship side Bournemouth, losing 2-1. Bournemouth, fresh from their 8-0 thrashing of Birmingham, made 10 changes but that didn’t stop the hosts reaching the last eight of the League Cup for the first time in the south coast side’s history.
Eunan O’Kane gave the Cherries a 49th-minute lead and, after Georgios Samaras’ shot deflected in off Tommy Elphick in the 85th-minute, Bournemouth scored the winner barely 60 seconds later through substitute Callum Wilson.
The all-Championship game saw second-tier leaders Derby County come from two goals behind to beat Fulham 5-2 at Craven Cottage.
Moussa Dembele’s first Fulham goals fired the London club into a 2-0 lead shortly before half-time.
But Chris Martin pulled one back from the penalty-spot before the interval for Derby and the Rams stormed to victory after the break thanks to goals from Johnny Russell, Jeff Hendrick and two from Simon Dawkins.
Meanwhile Sheffield United needed two goals in the final four minutes from Michael Higdon to beat fellow third-tier club Milton Keynes Dons 2-1.
League Cup holders Manchester City face Newcastle on Wednesday, while Stoke face Southampton – having lost 1-0 to the Premier League high-flyers last weekend – and Tottenham Hotspur welcome second-tier Brighton to White Hart Lane.