CHELSEA 0, LIVERPOOL 0
(FA Cup final after extra time. Liverpool win 6-5 on penalties)
Liverpool were spot on as they completed a domestic cup double and kept alive their hopes of a quadruple.
There was drama as Wembley where Jurgen Klopp’s side defeated Chelsea on penalties in the FA Cup as they did in February in the final of the Carabao Cup.
Just as in that match, 120 minutes failed to produce a goal, though goodness how Liverpool failed to find the net as they twice struck the frame of the goal while Chelsea also hit the crossbar.
While Liverpool edged home 11-10 on penalties in the Carabao Cup, it was not such a marathon this time as they triumphed 6-5.
However, it produced no shortage of drama as Sadio Mane, with a kick to win with the last of the 10, saw his effort saved by Edouard Mendy. Cesar Azpilicueta had earlier struck the upright.
Then in sudden death, Mason Mount had his effort well saved by Alisson leaving substitute Kostas Tsimikas to slot home the winning kick.
Liverpool ended a 16-year wait as this was their first FA Cup win at the new Wembley as their triumph in 2006 was against West Ham, also on penalties, in Cardiff after a pulsating 3-3 draw.Embed from Getty Images
Klopp praised his side’s battling qualities, saying: “Outstanding, it was an incredible, intense game against Chelsea – they would have deserved it [the win] exactly the same way, like in the Carabao Cup – that’s how small the margins are.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my boys, the shift they put in, how hard they fought, early changes. I think Virgil (Van Dijk) is fine, but his muscle was hurt.
“All of these things, missing good chances, overcoming good moments from Chelsea, then having really good moments ourselves.
“Then in the penalty shootout, it was nerve-racking, my nails are gone but I really feel for Chelsea – for the second time, 120 minutes and you get nothing, that’s too hard. But for us I’m pretty happy.
“We are mentality monsters but there were mentality monsters in blue as well – it was one penalty. Chelsea played outstanding, but in the end there must be one winner, and that was us today.”
There was heartbreak for Chelsea as this was their third successive final defeat in as many years – 2020 to Arsenal, 2021 to Leicester and the reverse to Liverpool.
Manager Thomas Tuchel was proud of his players, saying he had no regrets.
“We played 120 minutes with the score 0-0 against probably the best attacking team in the world, and we also created chances,” he said.
“We are disappointed but at the same time sad. I thought we had momentum on our side, but I was not right. We will have to digest it, but that’s sport.
Tuchel’s side has drawn four times against Liverpool this season which provides belief Chelsea can bridge the gap.
He explained: “We have shown we can produce peak performances against them.
“The difference is that they can do it again on a Wednesday, Saturday and Wednesday, but we struggle to do that.
“They had a full team but for Fabinho while we had three or four out. They have built their team over many years.”
Mohamed Salah returned to the Liverpool line-up, one of five changes from the midweek win at Aston Villa.
The injured Fabinho was replaced by Jordan Henderson in midfield.
Curtis Jones lost out to Thiago, Andrew Robertson returned at left back, Salah was in for Diogo Jota and Ibrahima Konate played instead of Joel Matip at the back.
Chelsea made only one change to the side that won 3-0 at Leeds earlier in the week.
The experienced Thiago Silva returned to the side as Andreas Christensen dropped out.
Luiz Diaz made an electrifying start and was involved in three clear-cut chances in the opening eight minutes.
The Portuguese delivered crosses which Thiago and Salah were unable to get on the end of before seeing a shot partially blocked by goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. As the ball trickled towards goal, Antonio Rudiger made a timely goalline clearance.
Liverpool were on top territorially and in terms of chances created – six to nine in the first 20 minutes – but Chelsea sounded a warning shot mid-half when Mason Mount cut the ball back to Christian Pulisic who fired narrowly wide.
Pulisic then released Marcos Alonso who was denied by an important block by Alisson who needed lengthy treatment after the two players collided as Chelsea began to grow into the game.
The pendulum swung towards Chelsea further when Salah limped off in the 33rd minute to be replaced by Jota with what appeared a groin straun.
Just before half time, Liverpool had a great chance when Jota got on the end of a Robertson cross but flicked the ball over the bar from six yards.
Chelsea were quick out of the blocks for the restart and had two chances in the opening minute to take the lead as Alonso pulled a shot wide and Pulisic’s effort was parried by Alisson.
Alonso then whipped in a free kick from the right which sailed over Alisson’s head and struck the bar as Chelsea were well on top.
Diaz remained Liverpool’s dangerman as a shot on the turn from 22 yards flew past the upright. Jota did likewise on the hour as Klopp’s side gradually began to reimpose their authority following a shaky start to the second period.
Liverpool were on the front foot in the final half hour as Diaz failed to hit the target when well placed.
They then struck the upright twice in 63 seconds through Diaz before Jota met substitute James Milner’s cross at the far post only to rattle it for a second time, a glorious chance to break the deadlock.
Diaz again went agonisingly close in the 90th minute with a great run at the Chelsea defence before bending a shot narrowly wide.
Van Dijk, who had a muscle problem, was replaced Matip at the start of the 30 extra minutes.
Neither side has a clear-cut chance to snatch victory in extra time and the longer it went the more both sides appeared to be settling for penalties as happened when they met in the final of the Carabao Cup.
Henderson lost the toss, so the penalties took place in front of the Chelsea fans, though Liverpool held their nerve to win a second piece of silverware in two-and-a-half months with the Premier League and Champions League still to reach their conclusions.