Liverpool secured their second domestic trophy of the season today by beating Chelsea on penalties after an epic FA Cup final encounter at Wembley.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool absolutely flew out of the blocks pinning a shell shocked Chelsea back to the edge of their own box. Time after time the Reds midfield were able to loft balls in behind to the impressive Luis Diaz and the Colombian attacker almost opened the scoring early on but his effort was scrambled off the line after Edouard Mendy’s initial save.
Chelsea did however go close to opening scoring midway through the first half, Christian Pulisic’s scuffed strike from a Mason Mount cut back rolling agonisingly past the far post.
Despite having very little of the ball Thomas Tuchel’s side once again went close a few minutes later, with Liverpool ‘keeper Alisson brilliantly denying Marcos Alonso when the Spanish left-back found himself through on goal.
Worryingly for Reds fans, Mohamed Salah was forced off through injury and just before the break his replacement Diogo Jota had a great chance, but the Portugal international hit over from six yards out from a Andy Robertson cross.
It would be Chelsea’s turn to start the second period like a freight train, with only some fine Alisson goalkeeping and the woodwork stopping the Blues from taking the lead within the opening minutes of the second-half.
Despite the lack of goals it was a hugely entertaining and end-to-end encounter with both Pulisic and Dias both going close for their respective sides from the edge of the area.
Five minutes from the end Liverpool once again went within a whisker of scoring, but Robertson could only volley against the post from a few yards out after getting on the end of a James Milner cross.
In the end this thrilling encounter would end in the same way as the Carabao Cup final fixture between these two brilliant sides with the tie going to extra time.
The quality understandably dropped off in extra time with both teams looking out on their feet and after 120 minutes of enthralling action the 141st FA Cup final headed to penalties.
Sadio Mane would be handed the chance to win the trophy for Liverpool with his sides fifth spot-kick after Chelsea’s cup captain Cesar Azpilicueta had hit the post. However, up against his Senegal teammate Mendy, Mane’s effort wasn’t far enough into the corner which allowed the Chelsea ‘keeper to get down low and send the shootout to sudden death.
The tide had seemed to change in Chelsea’s favour at that stage and Hakim Ziyech stepped up next confidently despatch his effort. Diogo Jota refused to bow to the pressure though and fired his penalty calmly into the top corner.
Mason Mount – who previously missed in a shoot out against Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup – was up next and heartbreakingly for the Blues academy graduate his tame effort was saved by man mountain Alisson. Greek full-back Konstantinos Tsimikas was tasked with the responsibility of taking the 14th penalty of the shoot out and the 26-year-old duly stepped up and fired low into the bottom corner to seal FA Cup glory for his side and keep their hopes of winning an unprecedented quadruple alive.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 14, 2022
Speaking afterwards Liverpool boss Klopp was understandably beaming, although he did graciously pay tribute to a Chelsea side who pushed his side all the way.
“Outstanding, it was an incredible, intense game against Chelsea – they would have deserved it [the win] exactly the same way, like in the Carabao Cup – that’s how small the margins are,” Klopp told the BBC.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my boys, the shift they put in, how hard they fought, early changes. I think Virgil is fine but his muscle was hurt.
“All of these things, missing good chances, overcoming good moments from Chelsea, then having really good moments ourselves.
“Then in the penalty shootout, it was nerve-racking, my nails are gone but I really feel for Chelsea – for the second time, 120 minutes and you get nothing, that’s too hard. But for us I’m pretty happy.
“We are mentality monsters but there were mentality monsters in blue as well – it was one penalty. Chelsea played outstanding but in the end there must be one winner and that was us today.”