Balotelli inspires late Reds win as Fulham collapse

 
Ross McLean
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MUCH-MALIGNED striker Mario Balotelli inspired a late salvage operation as Liverpool kept alive their Capital One Cup hopes with a last-gasp 2-1 victory against Swansea at Anfield last night.

Liverpool, who are off the pace in the Premier League and struggling to reach the knockout phase on their Champions League return, found themselves a goal down when Marvin Emnes fired past second choice keeper Brad Jones.

Despite only scoring once for Liverpool since his £16m summer move from AC Milan, Balotelli climbed off the bench to haul the Reds level before Dejan Lovren headed a dramatic winner following Argentina defender Federico Fernandez’s dismissal.

Liverpool were not the only team to instigate a turnaround in fortunes as Derby recovered from a two-goal deficit against fellow Championship side Fulham at Craven Cottage to post a 5-2 win.

Fulham surged into a commanding lead courtesy of a double from teenage forward Moussa Dembele before Chris Martin halved the deficit before the break with a penalty.

Derby ensured their passage to the last eight with a stunning second-half showing as Johnny Russell’s equaliser paved the way for Simon Dawkins to net twice and Jeff Hendrick to also find the net.

The shock of the night came at Dean Court where Bournemouth reached the quarter-finals for the first time in their history after knocking out Premier League side West Brom with a 2-1 win.

Eunan O’Kane opened the scoring shortly after the break while a Tommy Elphick own goal with five minutes remaining looked to be sending the game into extra-time until Callum Wilson raced clear to settle matters moments later.

On a night of comebacks, substitute Michael Higson scored two late goals as Sheffield United came from behind to defeat MK Dons after Benik Afobe’s opener.