Liverpool continues to make heroes during an unforgettable season, amassing silver, suggesting something historic. On this occasion, it was the reserve left defender Kostas Tsimikas who made the difference and proved that even unannounced members of the squadron of Jürgen Klopp can be counted.
The Greek national team, who was introduced as a substitute in the final stages of the overtime, who came from Olympiakos in the summer of 2020 for £ 11.7 million, hit Liverpool and received the seventh penalty in the shootout. It was a kick that won the FA Cup.
Liverpool were in the same situation at the end of the fifth round. César Azpilicueta hit Chelsea with the first kick of the second round and Sadio Mané went to the scene with the intention of completing phase two of Operation Quadruple.
Mané seemed to be taking his time and enjoying it. He scored a decisive penalty for Senegal for their victory in the African Nations Cup final and World Cup playoffs. Everyone knew he would score. But he didn’t, his Senegalese teammate Edouard Mendy was on the right track to the rescue.
It was a moment of the purest drama. Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea’s manager, beat the lawn in delirium. For his team, it was turned on again; opportunity to end a traumatic season at a high level. And then it was torn again after Alisson read Mason Mount’s intentions to make an excellent intervention to his left.
Enter Tsimikas. What a moment for a 26-year-old. And he made it crucial to his career with the best performance. Liverpool’s half of the stadium exploded, the scene was lit by red flares and Klopp was able to celebrate adding the FA Cup to his resume.
Klopp wants more. The Premier League feels like a big challenge as its team lags behind Manchester City by three points with two games played – and a lower goal difference. Then there’s the trifle of the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 28.
When Mohamed Salah was forced to resign in the 32nd minute due to injury, there was fear, but there was no time to deal with it, but the club was able to enjoy the first FA Cup since Steven Gerrard’s victory over West Ham in 2006, who also won on penalties.
Is there a team that has shown more peace in the shootings over the years than Liverpool? They won their first trophy this season on penalties – the Carabao Cup against Chelsea – and there were parallels with the day, especially in how both teams failed to take their chances during the stalemate.
It wasn’t as open as the previous part, legs heavy after a long season. For Chelsea, there was emotional exhaustion from the impending takeover; for Liverpool, a ruthless schedule that could bring ultimate glory. But there were still plenty of opportunities.
Tensions grew steadily, and Liverpool thought it broke it not once, but twice in a whirlwind of 60 seconds from the 83rd minute. Instead, they hit the pole twice. First, the excellent Luis Diaz fired against the outside of the right post, and then Andy Robertson, coming from the center from the substitute James Milner, bumped into the other.
Chelsea longed for what Tuchel called an “injection of positivity” from the piece, and she almost succeeded in normal time, before the slow and inevitable trickling into penalties. Christian Pulisic and Marcos Alonso had a great chance in the first half and Alonso again immediately after the break. The left-hand defender would also knock the crossbar in a direct kick from the 48th minute from a close angle.
Tuchel pulled a real crowd pleaser as he, after 119 minutes, wove through the guests’ entire central defense and put the 1 – 0 equalizer away. Back then, it was Kepa Arrizabalaga’s goalkeeper, and we all remember how it worked. This time it was Ross Barkley for the unfortunate Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who joined himself as a substitute. Barkley did not touch the ball before the final whistle, which means that his only touch was when he started in the fourth round. He flew past Alisson.
Mendy would have his fingertips on Milner and Robert Firmin’s penalties, albeit in vain, and the Chelsea players collapsed on the lawn when it was over. It was their third FA Cup final in a row and their third defeat, which is an unwanted new record. They thought of revenge for the Carabao Cup. They didn’t get it.
Liverpool set the first indicators and Días worried about Trevoh Chalobah at his own pace. He almost caught Thiagus the cross and then missed one on one after the magnificent penetration of Trent Alexander-Arnold. Give Mendy a big block.
Chelsea fought their way back after a challenging initial 20 minutes. Pulisic pulled over and then played at Alonso, whose first touch disappointed him. Romela Lukaku also shot high. Tuchel’s team had a lot of chances at the beginning of the second half, Alonso overshot the far pole from his direct kick before his attempt and Pulisic extended Alisson.
Diogo Jota, who replaced Salah, threw two good chances while Días didn’t get the ball. But Liverpool has found a way.