London: Liverpool lifted the FA Cup after a dramatic 6-5 penalty shootout win against Chelsea replicating their victory in the League (Carabao) Cup final in February when they beat the same opponents in a 11-10 penalties. The win keeps alive their dream of achieving a historic quadruple this season as they aim for the Premier League crown with the European Champions League final to come on May 28 against Real Madrid.
Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, who has now won all six major club trophies available said: “It feels outstanding. It was incredibly intense. The penalty shootout was nerve-racking, my nails are gone. I couldn’t be more proud of them with the shift they put in and how hard they fought.”
He added: “They are mentality monsters but I saw them in yellow too (the kit colour Chelsea played in). I really feel for Chelsea. They would have deserved to win too. But for us I am pretty happy. In the end there must be one winner and we’ll enjoy it.”
Liverpool took early control and Chelsea were being overrun. They took time to settle. They were without their regular strikers, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, both injured. Chelsea’s defence came under pressure with quick passes particularly from man-of-the-match Luiz Diaz and Trent Alexander-Arnold who worked tirelessly throughout.
Diaz had the chance for an early goal when in the 9th minute his low shot was saved by Edouard Mendy’s legs at first but as the ball slowly went towards the goal, Trevoh Chalobah quick to get back, cleared it before Mo Salah could get to it.
At the other end, Christian Pulisic, in the 23rd minute, received a cross from Mason Mount in the box but clipped it just wide of the left post. A few minutes later Marcus Alonso’s shot was blocked by Alisson who had come out to narrow the angle.
Liverpool star player Mo Salah had to come off injured in the 33rd minute with a supposed groin injury and was replaced by Diogo Jota. Even though Chelsea were livelier of the two sides for long periods during the second half, Liverpool were unlucky – with eight minutes before end of normal time – to see shots from Diaz hit the outside of the post and Andrew Robertson’s volley at a curled cross from substitute James Milner hit the other post.
After the energy-sapping extra time ended in stalemate, came the dreaded penalties. Chelsea’s second attempt from the spot kick by Cesar Azpilicueta hit the upright and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane’s shot was pushed away to the left by the diving Mendy.
After substitute Hakim Ziyech scored with the sixth shot, Alisson saved Mason Mount’s low attempt. That finally set the stage for Kostas Tsimikas to send himself and Liverpool into a frenzy with the seventh shot firmly into the target in front of the numb Chelsea supporters.
A subdued Chelsea manager, Thomas Tuchel said: “We can produce peak performances to compete with Liverpool. The difference is they can do it Saturday to Wednesday. They have a bigger squad.”