FA Cup: Liverpool beat Chelsea 5-4 on penalties and became champion.
Liverpool held on to win the FA Cup for the first time since 2006 after a dramatic penalty shoot-out against Chelsea, and the quadruple runner-up kept their bid for history alive on Saturday. Jürgen Klopp’s side prevailed 6-5 on penalties at Wembley, with Greek defender Kostas Tsimikas the unlikely hero with the decisive shot after Alisson Becker saved Mason Mount’s shot. A hard-fought final had ended 0-0 after extra time, setting the stage for a nerve-racking penalty shoot-out with Chelsea’s César Azpilicueta missing and Sadio Mané, whose shot was saved by Edouard Mendy when He had a chance to win the trophy.
For the second time this season, Liverpool emerged victorious against Chelsea on penalties, beating them 11-10 in February after another goalless draw in the League Cup final.
Liverpool’s triumph keeps them in the running to become the first English team to win all four major trophies in a single season.
With two prizes already secured, the Reds are hoping for a stumble from Premier League leaders Manchester City, who are three points ahead of them in the title race with two games remaining for both teams.
Even if Liverpool fails to win a second English title in three seasons, they could cap off an astonishing campaign by winning the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Paris on May 28.
With that ambition in mind, Klopp’s only concern as he danced gleefully before Liverpool supporters amid a haze of red flare smoke was whether his team would be complete against Real.
Liverpool has lost Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk to injuries that could rule them out of their final two Premier League games next week and raise concerns about their ability to recover in time for the Champions League final.
Liverpool has won both domestic cups in the same season for the first time since 2000-01, with Klopp getting his hands on the famously ancient trophy for the first time.
For Chelsea, it was a painful third successive loss in the FA Cup final, following previous defeats to Leicester and Arsenal.
Liverpool got off to a flying start, with an avalanche of quick passes and unrelenting pressure.
Diaz should have put Liverpool ahead after speeding up a sublime pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold, who caressed the ball through the Chelsea defense with the outside of his boot.
Diaz’s shot was saved by Mendy, but the ball kept rolling towards the goal until Trevoh Chalobah scrambled to clear at the last moment.
With Tuchel gesticulating furiously on the touchline, Chelsea dug in and finally pushed back the crimson tide.
Mount made his first serious foray, crossing for Christian Pulisic to finish wide.
Pulisic took the fight back to Liverpool moments later, slipping the pass from him to Alonso, who should have scored, but he made a poor first touch and fired his shot directly at Alisson Becker.
Diogo Jota squandered a golden opportunity to give Liverpool the lead shortly after his introduction as Salah’s replacement, the Portuguese striker volleying over Andrew Robertson’s cross.
Chelsea went on the offensive after the break and a shot from Pulisic was well saved by Alisson before Alonso’s free-kick hit the crossbar.
But Klopp’s self-proclaimed “mind freaks” haven’t come this close to a quadruple without notable strength.
The team regained momentum and Diaz grazed the post before Robertson hit a volley against the woodwork.
In the spring heat, and with both teams having played at least 60 games in a marathon season, it was little wonder that fatigue became a factor in bland overtime that never seemed to produce a winner.
Tuchel had sent his penalty-stopping specialist goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, before the penalty shoot-out of the League Cup final, in a play that went wrong.
This time, they bet on Mendy, but the result remained the same.
Klopp admitted that Liverpool’s remarkable season would be a disappointment if it only ended with the League Cup, but he doesn’t have to worry about that anymore.