The Carabao Cup, also known as the EFL Cup, boasts a storied history in English football, offering its fair share of thrilling moments on the field. While it may not hold the same prestige as the FA Cup, this competition provides clubs with a coveted opportunity to claim silverware each season. Notably, it’s seen surprise victors like Swansea City and Birmingham City clinching the title in the last 13 years.
Despite its longstanding presence, the Carabao Cup hasn’t shied away from evolving its format over time. Recent alterations, particularly in addressing draws after the standard 90 minutes, have been evident. Previously, the competition employed extra time in every round, but as of the 2018/19 campaign, the implementation of extra time was restricted to the semifinals onwards, with the intention of mitigating fatigue issues during midweek fixtures, as highlighted in a statement by the EFL.
Consequently, when matches are tied after the standard duration in the Carabao Cup earlier rounds, the games proceed directly to penalty shootouts for a definitive outcome. This approach, however, underwent experimentation with the ABBA penalty shootout format in the 2017/18 season, allowing teams to take consecutive penalties after the initial attempt. Despite this trial, the competition reverted to the traditional penalty shootout format from the 2018/19 season onwards.
Replays have become obsolete in the Carabao Cup since the 1990s, replaced by extra time or direct penalty shootouts to decide a victor in case of a draw. Notably, semifinals in this competition consist of two legs, making it the only instance of the same fixture being played more than once in a single season.
In summary, the approach to determining outcomes in Carabao Cup matches varies at different stages: penalty shootouts for matches up to the quarterfinals, while second leg semifinals or the final include extra time followed by a penalty shootout if needed. Additionally, the use of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) in this tournament is restricted until the semifinals, where it comes into play for the two-legged semifinal matches and the final.