For all its qualities – the intense pressure, the defensive solidity, the whirlwind attacks – perhaps the best sense of drama is on occasions like these.
As in the League Cup final at Wembley earlier this year, Jürgen Klopp’s men needed penalties to beat Chelsea and lift some silverware in the same stadium.
As unlikely as it is that the Reds will become the first English team to win all three domestic competitions and the European Cup, the quadrupling is still possible thanks to this FA Cup victory.
Two trophies in the cupboard this season, room for two more. That’s why Liverpool fans still dream. History could still be made.
Just like in the League Cup final, a scoreless 120 minutes belied the quality of the match. Chances were created, goal posts were moved, but perhaps it was fitting that on the 150th anniversary of football’s oldest cup competition, the final was decided in the most theatrical way as Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties.
Even a traditional occasion like this — a marching band before kickoff, Royalty presenting the trophy — recognizes world events.
As with many major sporting events, political statements were made. First, Liverpool fans hooted the English national anthem, then the captains and officials stood with the Ukrainian flag with the words ‘PEACE’ in black capital letters and just before this oldest competition started, the players knelt.
The game was only minutes old when Liverpool got their first chance. In reality, the men in red should have scored at least once as they dominated the first quarter, but Thiago, Luis Diaz, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane plodded in front of the goal.
Although Chelsea played second fiddle for most of the first half, the Londoners may have had their best chance of the period with a world-class save from Liverpool’s Alisson – a dive low to Marcos Alonso’s feet – that kept them out of the game. to go.
The early elimination of Salah, Liverpool’s leading goalscorer, through injury added to Liverpool’s fears as the half progressed, but even without the Egyptian, the Reds were able to reaffirm their dominance before halftime.
Indeed, Salah’s replacement Diogo Jota should have put Jürgen Klopp’s men ahead just before half-time.
Like Liverpool in the first half, Chelsea had a bright start in the second. Alonso was again barred from the scoresheet, this time through the crossbar when his impending free kick hit the woodwork.
Two of the best teams in English football faced each other and opportunities abounded: Jota, Diaz and Andy Robertson for Liverpool; Christian Pulisic (twice) for Chelsea.
It was breathless. It was entertaining. It made for a brilliant atmosphere as both sets of fans rang the decibels on a beautiful summer evening in London.
All that was missing was a goal. The minutes passed, substitutions came in, mistakes crept into the play of tired legs, but no one could find the net.
Diaz looked to the skies as the impressive Edouard Mendy snatched another chance, this one in the 82nd minute, and his gesture echoed the sentiments of all the fans watching: Will either goalkeeper ever be beaten?
Andy Robertson hit the post with seven minutes to go. Diaz aimed again. But when the full whistle went off, the game was, for all odds, for all the entertainment, scoreless.
Inevitably, the energy dwindled in extra time, few chances were created and penalties loomed large on the horizon.
Chelsea missed the second penalty (Cesar Azipliueta), Liverpool the fifth (Sadio Mane). There was a sense of déjà vu as the first 10 penalties failed to determine the outcome – the League Cup final ended 11-10 after penalties and the goalkeepers had to pull up – but Alisson Becker saved Mason Mount’s penalty, which gave Kostas Tsimikas the chance to become the unlikely hero.
The Greece international is not a regular starter for Liverpool, but coolly returns home to cause joyous celebrations for those in red.
The Liverpool players engulfed Tsimikas, manager Jurgen Klopp sprinted from the dugout to his men and the fans set off flares to saturate the air with a red hue.
The club anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ echoed through the stadium as Liverpool fans serenaded a team that brought them their first FA Cup win at Wembley in 30 years.
This is the caliber of this side of Liverpool, but the celebrations will have to be short-lived as there are other challenges on the horizon – a Champions League final at the end of the month and two Premier League games to try and match the three points ahead of Manchester City to top the league.