In pictures: Chelsea v Liverpool
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Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker proved to be the hero as the Reds lifted the FA Cup for the first time in 16 years. Jurgen Klopp’s men prevailed 6-5 in a tense penalty shootout win over Chelsea, but they had Alisson to thank for his quick thinking in helping them clinch the trophy.
The Brazilian made sure that between each penalty, he handed the ball to each and every Liverpool team-mate who was in line to take a spot-kick. By doing so, Alisson prevented his counterpart Edouard Mendy from using his infamous time-wasting tactics in penalty shootouts.
It was that same tactic that helped Mendy and Senegal clinch the Africa Cup of Nations against Egypt. But clearly, the Liverpool stopper had done his homework to deny Mendy the chance to repeat his antics in the final at Wembley — and it proved pivotal as Kostas Tsimikas sunk the winning penalty into the corner.
“It’s amazing, we did such a good performance. It was a shame we didn’t score,” he told BBC Sport. “It was a proper fight, we kept a clean sheet, and then afterwards the boys were unbelievable scoring the goals [penalties]. I just had to save the last one.
When asked about his saved, he beamed: ”It was good hey? All goalkeeper coaches they help me with the decisions. They are fantastic players, Chelsea did really well but we deserved to win this. I only make the save because we deserved to win this.”
In a closely-fought final, Klopp’s men had twice hit the woodwork through Andy Robertson and Luis Diaz, while Chelsea went close in similar fashion with Marcos Alonso. Christian Pulisic also had several gilt-edged opportunities but the American was stopped twice by the indomitable Alisson.
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With nothing to separate the two sides after 90 minutes, the game went to extra time at Wembley in front of a sold-out crowd. Amid a flurry of substitutions and players going down with injuries, penalties loomed — just as they did in the Carabao Cup final three months ago.
This time it was Alisson in goal and not backup goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher. And the Brazilian did his best to put off Cesar Azpilicueta as the Chelsea captain struck the outside of the post. Sadio Mane had the chance to win it but saw his compatriot Mendy save his poorly struck effort.
But when Alisson guessed the right way to deny Mason Mount, it was left to the unlikely figure of Tsimikas to win it and he found the side netting with a sublime penalty. It means Klopp is only the second manager to win the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and EFL Cup, following the lead of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson.
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