Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling suffered late agony in the League Cup as their Wembley dreams were ended by a 1-0 defeat at Chelsea.
Defender Branislav Ivanovich notched four minutes into extra time at Stamford Bridge to inflict heartbreak on the Reds’ England duo, who both played the full match for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Sterling, who scored in the 1-1 first leg draw, had looked lively throughout as his pace appeared to frighten the hosts, but he was unable to find a way past the Blues rear-guard as the ninety minutes ended goalless.
Another player to have represented Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions, Glen Johnson, came off the bench during the second half, but the Reds defender was unable to prevent Ivanovich from heading home from a free kick.
England striker Rickie Lambert was thrown on up front by Rodgers as he desperately attempted to find a late leveller to send the tie to penalties, but the former Southampton striker man struck high and wide from range with his only chance.
Chelsea, who had Gary Cahill (Seniors) as an unused sub, will meet Tottenham Hotspur or Sheffield United at the National Stadium on Sunday 1 March after their 2-1 aggregate victory.
Elsewhere, Derby County included England Under-21s midfielder Will Hughes in their Championship clash with Blackburn Rovers, and although he picked up a booking, he was still celebrating come full time.
The Rams’ on-loan striker Darren Bent, who recently arrived from Aston Villa, fired them to victory and second in the table. He appeared off the bench for Steve McClaren’s side on 63 minutes, and the former England international notched twice to earn a 2-0 win.
Moving down the age groups, and England U19s winger Demarai Gray was unable to inspire Birmingham City to find the net as they fought out a goalless stalemate at Sheffield Wednesday.
His international team-mate Dele Alli, who has this week been linked with a move to Newcastle United, played the full match for MK Dons as they drew 1-1 at Scunthorpe United in League One.