Friday, 20 May 2022

Liverpool win FA Cup after beating Chelsea again on penalties

Liverpool win FA Cup after beating Chelsea again on penalties

Liverpool win FA Cup after beating Chelsea again on penalties

Liverpool had been in the same situation at the end of round five. César Azpilicueta had hit the post for Chelsea with the first kick of the second round and Sadio Mané made the mission to the spot, intending to complete phase two of Operation Quadruple.

Mané seemed to be taking his time over the walk, savouring it. He had scored the decisive penalty for Senegal in their victories in the Africa Cup of Nations final and the World Cup playoff. Everybody knew that he was going to score. But he did not, his Senegal teammate Edouard Mendy going the right way to save.

Enter Tsimikas. What a moment for the 26-year-old. And he made it a defining one for his career with the coolest of finishes. The Liverpool half of the stadium exploded, red flares lighting the scene, and Klopp could celebrate the addition of the FA Cup to his CV.

There was a scare here when Mohamed Salah was forced off with an injury in the 32nd minute but it was not a time to dwell on that, rather for the club to enjoy a first FA Cup since the Steven Gerrard-inspired victory over West Ham in 2006, which was also won on penalties.

It was not as open as the previous instalment, the legs heavy after a long season. For Chelsea, there has been the emotional drain of the impending takeover; for Liverpool, the remorselessness of a schedule that could bring the ultimate glory. But there were still plenty of opportunities.

The tension rose steadily and Liverpool thought they had cracked through it not once but twice in a whirlwind 60 seconds from the 83rd minute. Instead, they twice struck the post. First, the excellent Luis Díaz shot against the outside of the right-hand upright and then Andy Robertson, arriving to meet a cross from the substitute James Milner, crashed against the other one.

Tuchel pulled the same move that he had done in the Carabao Cup, introducing a player specifically for the shootout in the 119th minute. Back then, it had been the goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, and we all remember how that worked out. This time, it was Ross Barkley for a nonplussed Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who had come on himself as a substitute. Barkley did not touch the ball before the final whistle, meaning that his only touch was when he stepped up in round four. He lashed past Alisson.

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