FA Cup Final: Liverpool Humbles Chelsea on Penalties

After a tense penalty shoot-out against Chelsea, Liverpool held their nerve to win the FA Cup for the first time since 2006, keeping their historic bid alive on Saturday.

At Wembley, Jurgen Klopp’s team prevailed 6-5 on penalties, with Greek defender Kostas Tsimikas scoring the game-winning penalty after Alisson Becker saved Mason Mount’s shot.

A tense final ended in a 0-0 tie after extra time, setting the stage for a nerve-wracking penalty shoot-out that included misses from Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta and Sadio Mane, whose shot was saved by Edouard Mendy when he had a chance to seal the title.

Liverpool won on penalties against Chelsea for the second time this season, having previously defeated them 11-10.

Liverpool won on penalties for the second time this season, defeating Chelsea 11-10 after a 0-0 draw in the League Cup final in February.

Liverpool’s victory keeps them in contention for becoming the first English team to win all four major trophies in the same season.

The Reds will be hoping for a slip-up from Premier League leaders Manchester City, who are three points ahead of them in the title battle with two games remaining for both clubs.

Even if Liverpool fails to win a second English title in three seasons, they may still finish an incredible season by defeating Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 28 in Paris.

With that goal in mind, Klopp’s main concern as he danced jubilantly in front of the Liverpool fans amid a whirling mist of red flare smoke was whether his team would be fully fit to face Real Madrid.

Liverpool have lost Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk to injuries that may keep them out of their final two Premier League games next week, raising doubts about their capacity to recuperate in time for the Champions League final.

For the first time since 2000-01, Liverpool has won both domestic cups in the same season, with Klopp claiming the coveted old trophy for the first time.

Chelsea suffered their third consecutive FA Cup final defeat, following losses to Leicester and Arsenal.

Liverpool got off to a flying start, swarming forward in a whirlwind of quick passes and persistent pressure.

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After sprinting onto a brilliant pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold, who caressed the ball through Chelsea’s defense with the outside of his boot, Diaz should have put Liverpool ahead.

Mendy saved Diaz’s feeble shot, but the ball continued to drift towards the goal until Trevoh Chalobah scrambled back to hack clear at the last moment.

Chelsea dug in and finally turned back the crimson tide, with Tuchel gesticulating wildly on the touchline.

Mount spearheaded the team’s first major attack, crossing for Christian Pulisic, who missed the target with his shot.

Pulisic took the fight back to Liverpool moments later, sneaking a pass to Alonso, who should have scored but took a bad first touch and scuffed his effort straight at Alisson Becker.

Soon after his arrival as Salah’s replacement, Diogo Jota squandered a fantastic opportunity to put Liverpool ahead, volleying over from Andrew Robertson’s cross.

After the break, Chelsea went on the attack, and Alisson saved Pulisic’s shot before Alonso’s free-kick cannoned off the crossbar.

Klopp’s self-proclaimed “mentality monsters,” on the other hand, haven’t come this close to a quadruple without putting up a fight.

Diaz clipped the outside of the post before Robertson volleyed against the woodwork as they regained possession.

With both teams having played at least 60 games in a protracted season, it was little surprise that exhaustion played a role in a dull extra session that never seemed to produce a winner in the April heat.

Tuchel had sent on Kepa Arrizabalaga, his penalty-saving specialist, for the League Cup final shoot-out, but it backfired.

Tuchel chose Mendy this time, but the outcome was the same.

Klopp said that Liverpool’s incredible season would be a letdown if they simply won the League Cup, but he no longer has to be concerned.

AFP

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