Jürgen Klopp said Liverpool’s “mentality monsters” filled him with pride after keeping hopes of an unprecedented quadruple alive by winning the club’s first FA Cup for 16 years.
In a repeat of the Carabao Cup final, Liverpool beat Chelsea in a penalty shootout following a goalless 120 minutes to clinch an eighth FA Cup and second trophy of a remarkable season. Alisson and Kostas Tsimikas were Liverpool’s heroes in the penalty shootout. The Brazil international saved from Mason Mount before the “Greek Scouser”, as Tsimikas is known at Liverpool, converted his team’s seventh penalty. Sadio Mané had earlier missed the chance to win the shootout when his penalty, Liverpool’s fifth, was saved by Éduoard Mendy.
The Liverpool manager said: “Outstanding, it was an incredible, intense game against Chelsea – they would have deserved it exactly the same way, like in the Carabao Cup – that’s how small the margins are. I couldn’t be more proud of my boys, the shift they put in, how hard they fought, early changes. All of these things, missing good chances, overcoming good moments from Chelsea, then having really good moments ourselves.
“Then in the penalty shootout, it was nerve-racking, my nails are gone but I really feel for Chelsea – for the second time, 120 minutes and you get nothing, that’s too hard. But for us I’m pretty happy. We are mentality monsters but there were mentality monsters in blue as well – it was one penalty. Chelsea played outstanding but in the end there must be one winner and that was us today.”
Alisson claimed the victory would help Liverpool in their pursuit of adding the Premier League title and Champions League to this season’s trophy haul. The Liverpool goalkeeper said: “That is part of the mentality monsters, going to extra time and keeping the high level, performing well. It gives us even more confidence to keep on going for the Premier League and also the Champions League final. This is a fantastic moment and now we just need to enjoy it.”
Two key players for Liverpool, Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk, were substituted due to groin and knee problems respectively, although Klopp confirmed both were withdrawn as a precaution with the Premier League title and Champions League final still to play for.
“Mo is a bit more than Virj,” said the Liverpool manager, who has now completed a clean sweep of English domestic trophies. “Virj has little problems. If he played 120 minutes that would have been really crazy. Mo said ‘I could carry on but I feel a little bit’ so I thought take him off.” The Netherlands international, who was replaced by Joel Matip ahead of extra time, confirmed: “I felt a little twinge behind my knee in the first half. I played on but I couldn’t risk it in extra-time. Hopefully it will be fine.”
Chelsea, by contrast, set a new and unwanted record of three FA Cup final defeats in a row. Thomas Tuchel insisted he had no regrets about his side’s performance at Wembley, where Timo Werner suffered a hamstring problem in the warm-up and Kai Havertz was unavailable due to a similar injury.
The Chelsea manager said: “Like in the Carabao Cup we have no regrets. I told the team I am proud. We were competitive and made life difficult for Liverpool. We struggled for the first 15 minutes but then we were excellent throughout the whole match against the most dangerous attacking team in the whole world. We lost on penalties. We are sad but at the same time proud. I was sure before and during the match that we would win. Unfortunately I was not right.”
Tuchel introduced Ruben Loftus-Cheek in extra time as a makeshift forward only to substitute the midfielder 14 minutes later. “It was purely for penalties,” the manager confirmed. “Ruben doesn’t have a good history with penalties and Ross [Barkley] has.”