Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties to win FA Cup final | Sport



Alisson Becker and Joel Matip of Liverpool celebrate. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Liverpool held their nerve to win the FA Cup for the first time since
2006 after a dramatic penalty shoot-out against Chelsea as the
quadruple chasers kept their history bid alive on Saturday.

Jurgen
Klopp’s side won 6-5 on penalties at Wembley as Greek defender Kostas
Tsimikas was the unlikely hero with the decisive kick after Alisson
Becker kept out Mason Mount’s effort.

A hard-fought final had
finished a 0-0 draw after extra-time, setting the stage for a
nerve-jangling shoot-out that featured misses by Chelsea’s Cesar
Azpilicueta and Sadio Mane, whose shot was saved by Edouard Mendy when
he had a chance to clinch the trophy.

For the second time this
season, Liverpool emerged victorious against Chelsea on penalties,
having already beaten them 11-10 following another 0-0 draw in the
League Cup final in February.

Liverpool’s triumph keeps them in the hunt to become the first English team to win all four major trophies in a single season.

With
two prizes already secured, the Reds will hope for a slip from Premier
League leaders Manchester City, who are three points clear of them in
the title race with two games left for both teams.

Even if
Liverpool are unable to win a second English title in three seasons,
they could still cap an astonishing campaign by winning the Champions
League final against Real Madrid in Paris on May 28.

With that
ambition in mind, Klopp’s only concern as he danced jubilantly in front
of the Liverpool supporters amid a swirling mist of red flare smoke was
whether his team will be at full strength against Real.

Liverpool
lost Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk to injuries that could rule them
out of their last two Premier League games next week and will spark
fears about their ability to recover in time for the Champions League
final.

Liverpool have won both domestic cups in the same season
for the first time since 2000-01, with Klopp getting his hands on the
famous old trophy for the first time.

For Chelsea, it was a painful third successive FA Cup final defeat after previous losses to Leicester and Arsenal.

Mentality monsters

Liverpool made a blistering start as they swarmed forward in a blur of swift passes and relentless pressing.

Diaz
should have put Liverpool ahead after accelerating onto a sublime pass
from Trent Alexander-Arnold, who caressed the ball through Chelsea’s
defence with the outside of his boot.

Diaz’s tame shot was saved
by Mendy, but the ball was still rolling towards goal until Trevoh
Chalobah scrambled back to hack clear at the last moment.

With Tuchel gesticulating furiously on the touchline, Chelsea dug in and finally turned back the red tide.

Mount led their first serious raid, crossing for Christian Pulisic to clip his shot just wide.

Pulisic
carried the fight to Liverpool again moments later, slipping his pass
to Alonso, who should have scored but took a poor first touch and
scuffed his shot straight at Alisson Becker.

Diogo Jota wasted a
golden chance to give Liverpool the lead soon after his introduction as
Salah’s replacement, the Portugal forward volleying over from Andrew
Robertson’s cross.

Chelsea were on the offensive after the
interval and Pulisic’s strike was well saved by Alisson before Alonso’s
free-kick cannoned off the bar.

But Klopp’s self-proclaimed “mentality monsters” haven’t come this close to a quadruple without remarkable fortitude.

They wrestled back the momentum and Diaz clipped the outside of the post before Robertson volleyed against the woodwork.

In
the spring heat, and with both teams having played at least 60 games in
a marathon season, it was no surprise fatigue became a factor in a tame
extra period that never looked like producing a winner.

Tuchel
had sent on his penalty-saving specialist ‘keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga ahead
of the League Cup final shoot-out in a move that backfired.

Tuchel stuck with Mendy this time, but the result was still the same.

Klopp
admitted Liverpool’s remarkable season would be a disappointment if
they only finished with the League Cup, but he no longer has to worry
about that.



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