London (AFP) – Liverpool held their nerve to win the FA Cup for the primary time since 2006 after a dramatic penalty shoot-out in opposition to Chelsea because the quadruple chasers saved their historical past bid alive on Saturday.
Jurgen Klopp’s aspect gained 6-5 on penalties at Wembley as Greek defender Kostas Tsimikas was the unlikely hero with the decisive kick after Alisson Becker saved out Mason Mount’s effort.
A tough-fought last had completed 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 an opportunity to clinch the trophy.
For the second time this season, Liverpool emerged victorious in opposition to Chelsea on penalties, having already crushed them 11-10 following one other 0-0 draw within the League Cup last in February.
Liverpool’s triumph retains them within the hunt to grow to be the primary English staff to win all 4 main trophies in a single season.
With two prizes already secured, the Reds will hope for a slip from Premier League leaders Manchester City, who’re three factors away from them within the title race with two video games left for each groups.
Even if Liverpool are unable to win a second English title in three seasons, they might nonetheless cap an astonishing marketing campaign by profitable the Champions League last in opposition to Real Madrid in Paris on May 28.
With that ambition in thoughts, Klopp’s solely concern as he danced jubilantly in entrance of the Liverpool supporters amid a swirling mist of pink flare smoke was whether or not his staff will likely be at full energy in opposition to Real.
Liverpool misplaced Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk to accidents that might rule them out of their final two Premier League video games subsequent week and can spark fears about their capability to get well in time for the Champions League last.
Liverpool have gained each home cups in the identical season for the primary time since 2000-01, with Klopp getting his palms on the well-known previous trophy for the primary time.
For Chelsea, it was a painful third successive FA Cup last defeat after earlier losses to Leicester and Arsenal.
– Mentality monsters –
Liverpool made a blistering begin as they swarmed ahead in a blur of swift passes and relentless urgent.
Diaz ought to have put Liverpool forward after accelerating onto a chic go from Trent Alexander-Arnold, who caressed the ball by Chelsea’s defence with the surface of his boot.
Diaz’s tame shot was saved by Mendy, however the ball was nonetheless rolling in direction of objective till Trevoh Chalobah scrambled again to hack clear on the final second.
With Tuchel gesticulating furiously on the touchline, Chelsea dug in and at last turned again the pink tide.
Mount led their first severe raid, crossing for Christian Pulisic to clip his shot simply extensive.
Pulisic carried the combat to Liverpool once more moments later, slipping his go to Alonso, who ought to have scored however took a poor first contact and scuffed his shot straight at Alisson Becker.
Diogo Jota wasted a golden likelihood to present Liverpool the lead quickly after his introduction as Salah’s substitute, the Portugal ahead volleying over from Andrew Robertson’s cross.
Chelsea have been on the offensive after the interval and Pulisic’s strike was effectively saved by Alisson earlier than Alonso’s free-kick cannoned off the bar.
But Klopp’s self-proclaimed “mentality monsters” haven’t come this near a quadruple with out outstanding fortitude.
They wrestled again the momentum and Diaz clipped the surface of the put up earlier than Robertson volleyed in opposition to the woodwork.
In the spring warmth, and with each groups having performed not less than 60 video games in a marathon season, it was no shock fatigue grew to become a consider a tame further interval that by no means regarded like producing a winner.
Tuchel had despatched on his penalty-saving specialist keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga forward of the League Cup last shoot-out in a transfer that backfired.
Tuchel caught with Mendy this time, however the end result was nonetheless the identical.
Klopp admitted Liverpool’s outstanding season can be a disappointment in the event that they solely completed with the League Cup, however he now not has to fret about that.