Liverpool edge Chelsea via shootout, remains in hunt for historic quadruple
Liverpool lifted their eighth FA Cup trophy with a 6-5 penalty shootout victory over Chelsea at Wembley, as Jürgen Klopp became the first German manager to win the competition.
Klopp’s side were on top in the opening exchanges, and Luis Díaz was at the heart of everything going forward for Jürgen Klopp’s side.
The Colombian was brilliantly picked out by Trent Alexander-Arnold and saw his shot saved by Édouard Mendy before Naby Keïta fired wide with his strike on the follow-up.
Christian Pulisic was inches away from giving Chelsea the lead despite that early pressure from the’ Reds’.
Mason Mount picked out the American at the end of a superb free-flowing move, but his shot went inches past the far post. Pulisic then turned provider for Marcos Alonso, who took an extra touch in the box and saw his effort saved by Alisson.
Klopp’s side were then dealt a blow when Mohamed Salah was forced off injured just past the half-hour mark – a worrying sight for the ‘Reds’ just two weeks before the UEFA Champions League final.
Salah’s replacement, Diogo Jota, almost made the desired impact, only to lift his attempt over the bar after being picked out by Andrew Robertson.
Chelsea were on top at the start of the second half, and Alonso’s searching in-swinging free-kick from the right clipped off the bar.
Díaz always looked dangerous, though, and his impressive movement engineered a chance on the edge of the box as his right-footed strike went a whisker wide of Mendy’s near post.
It was a game of near misses for both teams, as Jota, Díaz and Pulisic all came close again with further efforts in both sides’ quest for an opening goal.
Díaz caught the outside of the post with yet another effort before Robertson also hit the woodwork from James Milner’s cross.
There was still time for another effort from the Colombian, which also went wide – meaning both teams had managed only four shots on target between them in normal time. It was the first FA Cup final to go to extra time without a goal since 2007.
Extra time passed with little in the way of further goalscoring action, and a penalty shootout beckoned again. César Azpilicueta missed from the spot to give the Reds advantage in the shootout before Sadio Mané’s saved spot-kick saw the match go to sudden death.
Mount was first to miss before Kostas Tsimikas became the unlikely hero and gave the Merseysiders a cup double.
Liverpool’s triumph means the FA Cup and EFL Cup are in the trophy cabinet this season, matching the exploits of Gérard Houllier’s squad in the 2000/01 campaign.
As for Chelsea, they are the first team to lose both domestic cup finals in the same season since Middlesbrough in 1996/97.