Liverpool have won the FA Cup after beating Chelsea on penalties at Wembley. Kostas Tsimikas scored the winning penalty in sudden-death, after Alisson saved from Mason Mount.
Liverpool and Chelsea met in a rematch of February’s Carabao Cup final, and this encounter played out in remarkably similar fashion. Both sides had several opportunities to win the match in normal time and althought the frantic nature of the contest slowed down in extra time, it followed 90 breathless minutes at Wembley.
Liverpool made a bright start and threatened early through Luis Diaz, who was denied by Edouard Mendy in the first chance of the match, but Chelsea came back into it in what was a level first half. Alisson also made a good save to stop Marcos Alonso while Christian Pulisic and substitute Diogo Jota had chances, but it was an injury to Mohamed Salah that was the most notable incident of the first half, with the Liverpool forward coming off on 32 minutes with a groin problem.
It was Chelsea’s turn to start quickly after the break, as Alonso went close and Alisson saved Pulisic’s effort, before Alonso hit the crossbar with a free-kick. Diaz and Jota were next to whistle shots narrowly wide, and then Robertson hit the post with a volley from close range. As the final crept closer to extra time, Diaz curled a shot narrowly wide on the breakaway to almost win the final in the closing seconds.
Here are how the players rated:
Edward Mendy – 8
Thoughts of February’s Carabao Cup final returned as he made an excellent save with his legs to deny Diaz in the early exchanges. Another excellent and calming performance in a big game from the Chelsea goalkeeper.
Trevoh Chalobah – 7
A surprise inclusion, perhaps, ahead of Cesar Azplicueta, and was beaten on his first two tests against Luis Diaz. Solid from there and more than justified his selection of him. Tuchel likes him against Liverpool.
Thiago Silva – 7
Appeared to be uncomfortable with an early injury but the poise soon returned as the veteran defender guided Chelsea’s back three through until extra time.
Antonio Rudiger – 7
Liverpool had much less space on his side than they did out on their left through Diaz, which is telling. An asserting and composed display-typified by his challenge of him on Mane after the Liverpool forward had skipped past Silva. He will be such a big miss when he leaves for Real Madrid.
Reece James – 9
His defensive solidity settled Chelsea after Liverpool’s fast start, as did his availability as an outlet on the right wing, where the quality of his delivery was typically excellent. He was required to drop in and help Chalobah deal with the threat of Diaz and it made a big impact.
Matthew Kovacic – 7
After passing a late fitness test to make the final, only to find himself swarmed by Liverpool, he coped admirably well. He was able to win lots of those important niggly midfield battles to slow Liverpool down. When he was caught in possession, Liverpool couldn’t punish, and he was replaced by N’Golo Kante after the hour.
Jorginho – 6
Battled well alongside Kovacic and in the face of Liverpool’s press.
Mark Alonso – 8
Carried considerable threat from the left wing, perhaps more than any from the other full-backs on the pitch. He should have scored and had Chelsea’s best chance of the first half after being slipped in by Pulisic, but he gave Alisson a chance with a heavy touch. He went inches away from scoring the opener twice after the restart.
Mason Mount – 7
Burst into life around the 20-minute mark to nick the ball away from Robertson and set up Pulisic. He carries himself well in these big games and led his team from there.
Christian Pulisic – 7
Excellent as a runner and in general play, but when Chelsea needed him to be clinical he couldn’t take his chance. He should have converted Mount’s pull-back before testing Alisson.
Romelu Lukaku – 5
Handed a big opportunity to start but didn’t turn up, as Chelsea continued to struggle to get the best out of him. On one hand, he can say he won many of his aerial battles from him but had no one running behind him. On the other, he had a couple of openings on either side of Virgil van Dijk, but was wasteful as he fired over the bar. Brought off in 85 minutes.
Made a wonderful tracking run to dispossess Diaz.
Perhaps the brightest of Chelsea’s substitutes.
Allison – 8
Brought a high ball down on his knee and played a nonchalant pass with the outside of his boot with his first two touches. – the rest of the game was not so leisurely. He made a brave stop to deny Alonso and was sharp to save from Pulisic.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 8
His pass through for Diaz’s early chance might have gone down as one of the great FA Cup final assists had the Colombian converted. One occasion aside, in which he was caught under the ball with a cross that led to a shot by Alonso, his defending of him at the back post was excellent.
Ibrahima Konate – 8
Seemed to relish the battle with Lukaku and was brilliant in the air defensively. The Chelsea striker quickly realized there was little point avoiding Van Dijk.
Virgil van Dijk – 7
Strolled through most of the game and Chelsea had few chances behind the high line. Was not involved in extra time after being brought off, in what is another concern for Liverpool.
Andy Robertson – 8
Another fine performance from the dependent left-back, but one that should have finished with the winning goal. He timed his runs forward well and picked out two excellent crosses from the left. The first should have been covered by Jota while the second begged for a touch. Hit the post from Milner’s cross.
Jordan Henderson – 7
Dropped back into Fabinho’s position and was central to Liverpool’s excellent start – playing two excellent passes behind Chelsea’s line and generally moving the ball well. Liverpool didn’t particularly miss Fabinho, which is a compliment.
Naby Keita – 6
His pressing was excellent in a Liverpool midfield three that seemed to function pretty well, but he didn’t do enough on the ball to merit staying on and was Liverpool’s first substitution, Salah aside, when he was replaced by Milner.
Thiago – 7
Decorated his first cup final appearance for LIverpool with an array of sublime passing. The first half was not his most effective, given the form he has shown in recent weeks, but he stepped up in the second half and throughout extra time.
Mohammed Salah – N/A
Another cup final cut short, after being substituted with an apparent groin injury. It may have been precautionary, but it remains a major worry ahead of the Champions League final against Real Madrid, as well as the rest of the Premier League season. He had been the quietest of Liverpool’s front three before coming off.
Sadio Mane – 7
You have completed the transition from wide forward to false nine in the blink of an eye and he was often a versatile threat – mostly through his passing, which was excellent, as was his sense of space to drop into holes. The balance of the front three seemed to change after Salah departed.
Louis Diaz – 9
Electric, from the start and throughout, and there were so many moments where you just thought it would be his day. It wasn’t, after he was removed for Roberto Firmino in extra time, but that should not detract from what was a brilliant cup final performance. Still, he should have scored the opener after he broke through on goal, and then went inches away from scoring a winner with a curling shot in the dying seconds of normal time. .
Diogo Jota – 5
Had an excellent chance from Roberton’s cross, the sort he has made a habit of burying this season. He did n’t click into gear with the rest of Liverpool’s front three and frustrated with a wasteful pass when they were breaking.
Produced an excellent ball to the back post that just needed a touch from Roberton in normal time. He clattered into Reece James shortly after coming on.
Stepped into the game and was faultless after replacing Van Dijk
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.