Unsung hero keeps fourfold hope of ‘mentality monsters’ alive in FA Cup final thriller

Jurgen Klopp praised his ‘mentality monsters’ as Liverpool had the nerve to win the FA Cup after a dramatic penalty shootout against Chelsea kept the quadruple chasers’ historic bid alive on Saturday.

Klopp’s side won 6-5 on penalties at Wembley, as Greek defender Kostas Tsimikas was the unlikely hero with the decisive kick after Alisson Becker held off Mason Mount’s attempt.

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A hard-fought final had ended 0-0 after extra time, setting the stage for a nerve-wracking shoot-out with misses by Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, whose shot was saved by Edouard Mendy when he had a chance to take the trophy. to obtain.

For the second time this season, Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties after already beating them 11-10 after another 0-0 draw in the League Cup final in February.

Liverpool’s first FA Cup win since 2006 keeps them on the hunt to become the first English team to win all four major trophies in one season.

With two trophies already won, the Reds are hoping for a misstep from Premier League leader Manchester City, who are three points ahead of them in the title race with two games left for both teams.

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Liverpool won the FA Cup after beating Chelsea on penalties. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP)Source: AFP

“It was an incredible, intense game. Chelsea would have deserved it in exactly the same way, but the margins are that small,” said Klopp.

“We overcame good moments from Chelsea and then had very good moments ourselves.

“We are mentality monsters, but there were also mentality monsters in blue. Chelsea played great, but in the end there has to be one winner and that was us today.”

Even if Liverpool are unable to win a second English title in three seasons, they can still close out 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 cheering for Liverpool supporters amid a seething mist of red smoke, was whether his team will be at full strength against Real.

Liverpool lost Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk to injuries that could exclude them from their last 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 was hurt,” Klopp said.

Liverpool have 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.

Chelsea have lost an FA Cup final for the third time in a row. (Photo by Glyn KIRK/AFP)Source: AFP

For Chelsea, it was a painful third consecutive defeat in the FA Cup final after previous losses to Leicester and Arsenal.

“I have no regrets. I have told the team I am proud. We struggled in the first 15 minutes, we looked nervous and tense, but after that we were excellent,” said Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel.

“We kept perhaps the most dangerous attacking team in the world at 0-0 and created chances ourselves.

“We are sad. Everyone is in pain. We have to digest it and move on. That is life in sport.”

Diaz should have put Liverpool ahead on their blistering start as he accelerated on a superb pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold, but Mendy saved and Trevoh Chalobah scrambled back to get off the line.

With Tuchel gesturing furiously on the sidelines, Chelsea dug in and eventually the red tide turned.

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic cut his shot just wide and Marcos Alonso’s poor contact with the ball lost another good chance.

Chelsea were on the offensive after halftime and Pulisic’s attack was well saved by Alisson before Alonso’s free kick was fired at the crossbar.

But Klopp’s side have not come this close to quadrupling without remarkable steadfastness.

They struggled back the momentum and Diaz snapped the outside of the post before Robertson slammed into the woodwork.

Tuchel had sent his penalty-saving specialist Kepa Arrizabalaga for 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 rolled home his penalty to cause wild celebrations from Klopp and his company.

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