Liverpool have stopped their nerve to win the FA Cup for the first time since 2006 after a dramatic penalty shootout against Chelsea as the four-time drivers kept their history bid alive on Saturday. Jurgen Klopp’s team won 6-5 with penalties at Wembley, as Greek defender Kostas Tsimikas was the unlikely hero with the decisive kick after Alisson Becker Mason Mount’s effort persisted. A hard-fought final ended in a 0-0 draw after extra time, paving the way for a nerve-wracking shootout missed by Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta and Sadio Mane, whose shot was saved by Edouard Mendy when he chance to win the trophy.
For the second time this season, Liverpool emerged victorious with penalty kicks against Chelsea, having already beaten them 11-10 after another 0-0 draw in the League Cup final in February.
Liverpool’s triumph keeps them on the hunt to become the first English team to win all four major trophies in a single season.
With two awards already secured, the Reds will be hoping for a slip of the Premier League leaders, Manchester City, who are three points ahead 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 can still clinch an astonishing campaign by winning the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Paris on 28 May.
With that ambition in mind, Klopp’s only concern was when he danced jubilantly in front of Liverpool fans amid a swirling mist of red torch smoke as to whether his team would be at full strength against Real.
Liverpool have lost Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk to injuries that could rule them out of their last two Premier League games next week, raising fears about their ability to recover in time for the Champions League final.
Liverpool won both local 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 consecutive FA Cup final defeat after previous defeats against Leicester and Arsenal.
Liverpool made a lightning start as they swarmed forward in a haze of quick passing and relentless pressure.
Diaz should have put Liverpool ahead after accelerating on a sublime pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold, who stroked the ball through Chelsea’s defense with the outside of his boot.
Diaz’s tame shot was saved by Mendy, but the ball still rolled purposefully until Trevoh Chalobah scrambled back to hit clean at the last minute.
With Tuchel furiously gesturing to the sidelines, Chelsea dug in and finally returned the red tide.
Mount led their first serious knockout and crossed for Christian Pulisic to just cut his shot wide.
Pulisic brought the fight back to Liverpool moments later and slipped his pass to Alonso, who should have scored but took a weak first touch and struck his shot straight at Alisson Becker.
Diogo Jota missed a golden opportunity to give Liverpool the lead shortly after his introduction as Salah’s replacement, while Portugal forward Andrew Robertson’s cross flew over.
Chelsea were on the attack after the break and Pulisic’s attack was well saved by Alisson before Alonso’s free kick cannoned off the bar.
But Klopp’s self-proclaimed “mentality monsters” did not come so close to a quadruple emptiness without remarkable determination.
They wrestled the momentum back and Diaz cut the outside of the pole before Robertson fired against the woodwork.
In the spring heat, and with both teams playing at least 60 games in a marathon season, it was no surprise that fatigue became a factor in a tame extra period that never seemed or yielded a winner.
Tuchel steered his goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, ahead of the League Cup final in a move that bounced back.
Tuchel stayed with Mendy this time, but the result was still the same.
Klopp has admitted that Liverpool’s remarkable season will be a disappointment if they only finish the League Cup, but he no longer has to worry about that.
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