Jurgen Klopp has hailed his “monsters of mentality” as Liverpool kept their composure to win the FA Cup after a dramatic penalty shoot-out against Chelsea kept the four-time chasers’ historic bid alive on Saturday.
Klopp’s side won 6-5 on penalties at Wembley as Greece defender Kostas Tsimikas was the unlikely hero with the decisive spot-kick after Alisson Becker prevented Mason Mount’s effort.
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A hard-fought final ended a 0-0 draw after extra time, setting the stage for a nervy shoot-out that featured misses from Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, 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 over Chelsea on penalties, having already beaten them 11-10 following another 0-0 draw in the League Cup final in February.
Liverpool’s first FA Cup triumph since 2006 keeps them in the hunt to become the first English side to lift all four major trophies in a single season.
With two awards already won, the Reds are hoping for a slip from Premier League leaders Manchester City, who are three points clear of them in the title race with two games remaining for both sides.
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“It was an incredible, intense game. Chelsea would have deserved it in exactly the same way, but that’s how small the margins are,” Klopp said.
“We overcame good times from Chelsea and then we had some very good times ourselves.
“We are mentality monsters, but there were also mentality monsters in blue. Chelsea played exceptionally but in the end there has to be a winner and that was us today.
Even if Liverpool are unable to win a second English title in three seasons, they could still cap off a stunning 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 past Liverpool supporters amid a swirling haze of red smoke was whether his side would be at full strength against Real.
Liverpool have lost Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk to injuries which could rule them out of their final two Premier League games next week and will spark fears over their ability to recover in time for the Champions League final.
“I think Virgil is fine but his muscle has been injured,” Klopp said.
Liverpool won both domestic cups in the same season for the first time since 2000-01, with Klopp getting his hands on the famous old trophy for the first time.
For Chelsea, it was a painful third straight FA Cup final loss after previous losses to Leicester and Arsenal.
“I have no regrets. I told the team I was proud. We struggled in the first 15 minutes, we looked nervous and tense, but then we were excellent” said Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel.
“We held perhaps the most dangerous attacking team in the world to 0-0 and created chances for ourselves.
“We are sad. Everyone is suffering. You have to digest and continue. That’s life in sport.
Diaz should have given Liverpool the lead on his blistering start when he accelerated from a sublime pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold, but Mendy saved and Trevoh Chalobah rushed to clear the line.
With Tuchel gesticulating furiously on the touchline, Chelsea dug in and eventually reversed the red tide.
Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic cut his shot wide wide and Marcos Alonso’s poor touch wasted another good chance.
Chelsea were on the attack after the break and Pulisic’s strike was saved well by Alisson before Alonso’s free-kick was fired over the bar.
But Klopp’s side didn’t come close to a quadruple without remarkable courage.
They struggled with momentum and Diaz clipped the outside of the post before Robertson flew into the woodwork.
Tuchel sent in his penalty shootout goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga ahead of the League Cup final shootout in a move that backfired.
Tuchel stayed with Mendy this time but the result was still the same as Tsimikas brought his penalty home to spark wild celebrations from Klopp and company.