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

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

As in the League Cup final at Wembley earlier this year, Jürgen Klopp’s men needed penalties to beat Chelsea and lift some silverware in the same stadium.

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

Two trophies in the cupboard this season, room for two more. That’s why Liverpool fans dream. History could still be made.

Just like in the League Cup final, a scoreless 120 minutes belied the quality of the match. Chances were created, goal posts were rattled, but perhaps it was fitting that on the 150th anniversary of football’s oldest cup competition, the final was decided in the most theatrical way.

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

Chelsea missed the second penalty (Cesar Azplicueta), Liverpool the fifth (Sadio Mane). There was a sense of déjà vu as the first 10 penalties couldn’t determine the outcome and so the game suddenly died — the League Cup final ended 11-10 after penalties with the goalkeepers resigning.

This time, however, fewer penalties were needed as Alisson Becker saved Mason Mount’s penalty, giving Kostas Tsimikas the chance to become the unlikely hero.

The Greece international is not a regular starter for Liverpool, but coolly returns home to cause joyous celebrations for those in red.

The Liverpool players engulfed Tsimikas, manager Jurgen Klopp sprinted to his men and the fans fired flares to saturate the air with a red hue.

The club anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ echoed through the stadium as Liverpool fans serenaded a team that brought them their first FA Cup win at Wembley in 30 years.

This is the caliber of this side of Liverpool, but the celebrations will have to be short-lived as there are other challenges on the horizon – a Champions League final at the end of the month and two Premier League games to try and match the three points ahead of Manchester City to top the league.

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

Opportunities galore

Even a traditional occasion like this — a marching band before kickoff, Royalty presenting the trophy — recognizes world events.

As with many major sporting events, political statements were made. First, Liverpool fans hooted the English national anthem, then the captains and officials stood with the Ukrainian flag with the words ‘PEACE’ in black capital letters and just before this oldest competition started, the players knelt.

The game was only minutes old when Liverpool got their first chance. In reality, the men in red should have scored at least once as they dominated the first 15 minutes, but Thiago, the excellent Luis Diaz, Mo Salah and Mane plodded in front of the goal.

Although Chelsea played second fiddle for most of the first half, the Londoners had arguably their best chance of the period with just a world-class save from Liverpool’s Alisson – a dive low at the feet of Marcos Alonso – knocking them out. could go.

The early elimination of Salah, Liverpool’s top scorer this season, due to injury increased Liverpool’s sense of fear as the half progressed, but even without the Egyptian, the Reds were able to reaffirm their dominance before half-time.

Salah’s replacement, Diogo Jota, should have put Klopp’s men ahead just before half-time.

Mo Salah was a huge miss for Liverpool as he walked away injured.

Like Liverpool in the first half, Chelsea had a bright start in the second. Alonso was again barred from the scoresheet, this time through the crossbar when his impending free kick hit the woodwork.

Two of the best teams in English football faced each other and opportunities abounded: Jota, Diaz and Andy Robertson for Liverpool; Christian Pulisic (twice) for Chelsea.

It was breathless. It was entertaining. It made for a brilliant atmosphere as both sets of fans rang the decibels on a beautiful summer evening in London.

All that was missing was a goal. The minutes passed, substitutions came in, mistakes crept into the play of tired legs, but no one could find the net.

Diaz looked to the skies as the impressive Edouard Mendy snatched another chance, this one in the 82nd minute, and his gesture echoed the sentiments of all the fans watching: Will either goalkeeper ever be beaten?

Robertson hit the post with seven minutes to go before Diaz took another aim. But when the full whistle went, the game – despite all the chances, despite all the entertainment – remained scoreless.

Inevitably, the energy dropped in extra time and few chances were created, as penalties loomed on the horizon.

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

“We are sad, but at the same time proud because we left everything on the pitch,” said manager Thomas Tuchel after the game.

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