Liverpool win the FA Cup final after beating Chelsea on nerve-wracking penalties

For all its qualities – intense pressure, defensive solidity, whirlwind attacks – perhaps its finest is a sense of drama on occasions like these.

Just like in the League Cup final earlier this year at Wembley, Jurgen Klopp’s men he needed penalties to send Chelsea off and raise some trophy in the same stadium.

While it is unlikely that the Reds will become the first English team to win all three domestic competitions and the European Cup, quadrupling is still possible thanks to this FA Cup victory.

Two trophies in the toilet this season, space reserved for two more. This is why Liverpool fans are dreaming. It could still make history.

Just like in the League Cup final, 120 minutes without goals belied the quality of the match. Opportunities were created, the goal posts were shaken, but perhaps it was only right that on the 150th anniversary of the oldest football cup competition the final was decided in the most theatrical way.

Liverpool's Greek defender Kostas Tsimikas was the unlikely hero of the shooting.

Chelsea missed the second penalty (Cesar Azplicueta), Liverpool the fifth (Sadio Mane). There was a sense of déjà vu because the first 10 penalties could not decide the outcome and so the match went suddenly: the League Cup final ended 11-10 on penalties with the goalkeepers having to take a step forward.

Fewer penalties were needed this time, however, as Alisson Becker saved Mason Mount’s penalty, which gave Kostas Tsimikas a chance to become the unlikely hero.

The Greek international is not a regular for Liverpool, but he was coldly placed at home to unleash joyous cheers from those in red.

Liverpool players swallowed Tsimikas, manager Jurgen Klopp sprinted towards his men and fans detonated rockets to saturate the air with a tinge of red.

The club anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” echoed throughout the stadium as Liverpool fans serenaded a team that gave them their first FA Cup victory at Wembley in 30 years.

Such is the caliber of this Liverpool side, however, the celebrations will have to be short-lived as there are other challenges on the horizon: a Champions League final later this month and two Premier League games in which to try to review the three points. ahead of Manchester City at the top of the table.

Liverpool fans can celebrate their first FA Cup triumph since 2006.

Possibilities in abundance

Even a traditional occasion like this – a marching band before kick-off, the royalty presenting the trophy – recognizes world events.

As on many major sporting occasions, political statements have been made. First Liverpool fans booed the English national anthem, then captains and match officials stood with the Ukrainian flag that had the words “PEACE” emblazoned in black capital letters and, just before this oldest of competitions began, the players knelt down.

The game was minutes old when Liverpool got their first chance. In truth the men in red should have scored at least once, such was their domination in the first 15 minutes, but Thiago, the exceptional Luis Diaz, Mo Salah and Mane floundered in front of goal.

Although Chelsea played second fiddle for most of the first half, Londoners arguably had the best chance of that period with just a world-class save from Liverpool’s Alisson – a dive at Marcos Alonso’s feet – which prevented them to take advantage.

The early exit of Liverpool’s top scorer this season through injury added to Liverpool’s heightened sense of anxiety as time progressed but, even without the Egyptian, the Reds were able to reassert their dominance. before the break.

In fact, Salah’s replacement Diogo Jota should have given Klopp’s men the lead just before half-time.

Mo Salah was a big mistake for Liverpool as he limped out injured.

Just as Liverpool helped in the first, Chelsea made a brilliant start in the second. Once again, Alonso was denied access to the scoresheet, this time from the crossbar when his threatening free-kick hit a wood.

Two of the best English football teams have met and there have been many opportunities: Jota, Diaz and Andy Robertson for Liverpool; Christian Pulisic (twice) for Chelsea.

He was out of breath. It was fun. It created a brilliant atmosphere as both groups of fans cranked up the decibels on a beautiful London summer evening.

All that was missing was a goal. The minutes pass, the substitutes enter, the mistakes creep into the game of tired legs, but no one can find the net.

Diaz looked skyward when the impressive Edouard Mendy stopped another chance of his, this one in the 82nd minute, and his gesture reflected the feelings of all the fans who were watching: will one of the two goalkeepers ever be beaten?

Robertson hit the post with seven minutes left before Diaz took aim again. But while the full-time whistle went by, the match – for all occasions, for all the fun – ran out of goals.

Inevitably, the energy dwindled in overtime and few chances created as penalties loomed on the horizon.

Once again Chelsea, again under UK government sanctions, suffered the cruellest of defeats, becoming the first team to lose three consecutive FA Cup finals.

“We are sad, but at the same time proud to have left everything on the pitch,” said coach Thomas Tuchel after the match.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.