Alisson Becker has proved the spot-kick hero for Liverpool as they secured another penalty shootout triumph against Chelsea to win the FA Cup and keep their quest for an unprecedented quadruple alive.
Just 76 days after the Reds edged past Thomas Tuchel’s men on penalties following a scoreless League Cup final, Wembley witnessed another gripping clash between these sides that went down to spot kick drama.
Nothing could again split them after 90 minutes and extra time, with Alisson coming up trumps in the shootout as Liverpool won their first FA Cup since 2006.
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Edouard Mendy prevented his Senegalese compatriot Sadio Mane striking the winner after Cesar Azpilicueta had hit the post, only for the Brazil goalkeeper to deny Mason Mount.
Substitute Kostas Tsimikas then made himself an instant Liverpool hero as he struck the winner to seal a 6-5 win.
While the quadruple may eventually prove out of reach given Manchester City’s Premier League advantage, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds still have a shot at Champions League glory to come as a superb season heads towards a memorable conclusion.
Wembley was rocking to Liverpool’s beat at full-time, just as it was in the opening minutes as they flew out the blocks.
But Chelsea saw out the early storm and began to ask questions at the other end in a first half that saw Reds star Mohamed Salah limp off injured.
Marcos Alonso’s audacious free-kick hit the bar during a rampant Chelsea start to a topsy-turvy second period, which ended with Luis Diaz and Andrew Robertson striking the post for Liverpool.
That pulsating half made way for a tepid period of extra time between exhausted sides that raised themselves for penalties, which ended with red smoke and Liverpool cheers filling the air.
It was a third FA Cup final defeat in as many years for Chelsea – the first side to suffer the pain of a consecutive hat-trick of final losses – as they were denied a 22nd and final trophy of the Roman Abramovich era in gutting fashion.
The west London side were fortunate not to fall behind in the early stages, when Diaz was acting as chief tormentor.
Thiago Silva was hurt as Trevor Chalobah cleared and the break in play helped Chelsea grow into the final and begin posing problems.
Christian Pulisic steered a Mount cross narrowly wide and played through Alonso when Chelsea returned to the attack, only for a poor touch to allow Alisson to smother.
The injured Salah had to be replaced by Diogo Jota in the 33rd minute and the substitute wasted a good opportunity on the stroke of halftime, meeting Robertson’s cross with a nonchalant touch over.
Alonso went close within 40 seconds of the restart and then sent his 48th minute free-kick from a wildly acute angle onto the woodwork.
Liverpool went closest to finding a knockout blow in normal time when Diaz clipped the outside of the right-hand post from a difficult angle in the 83rd minute, and just a minute later Robertson clattered the other post when meeting James Milner’s cross with a close-range volley.
Extra-time proved far edgier than the 90 minutes that preceded it as the match meandered towards the inevitable penalty denouement.