Chelsea 0 (5) - 0 (6) Liverpool
It’s a sunny London afternoon at Wembley Stadium as Liverpool takes on Chelsea in the FA Cup final. The two teams met in the same place months ago when Liverpool beat them to the League Cup final back in February.
Luis Díaz unsurprisingly gets the start up front with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané. Naby Keïta, Jordan Henderson, and Thiago Alcantara make up the midfield, while it’s Ibrahima Konaté partnering with Virgil van Dijk in the defense to hopefully complete his run of winning FA Cup games.
Liverpool started off the match looking like a team who wanted to check off the second trophy on their way to a quadruple. The Reds have the first good chances, with Díaz running the show. He got off a good shot on the break after eight minutes, but it wasn’t quite good enough to beat Édouard Mendy in goal. The rebound eventually got to Keïta, who shot it wide to end the attack.
Another break down the left courtesy of Keïta and Díaz went wasted, as the ensuing shot was blocked. Díaz ran absolute circles around Reece James.
17 minutes in, Chelsea were awarded a free kick in a good area, but thankfully the ball went right into the loving arms of Alisson Becker, who sent the Reds careening back in the other direction for a counterattack. Mané crossed the ball in from the byline right across the face of goal, but no one was there to tap it in.
22 minutes in, Chelsea missed a good opportunity on the counterattack. Christian Pulisic made a good run, but his shot was wide of the mark.
Once again, Chelsea get another break, but Alisson smothered it well, though not without a gift from Marcos Alonso that required medical assistance. As if someone was having fun knocking off Liverpool players one at a time, seconds later, Salah sat down in the middle of the pitch and indicated that he couldn’t continue.
Hopefully it was just a precaution, but Salah went off quickly for Diogo Jota in a like-for-like replacement.
The last 20 minutes saw Chelsea pushing themselves back into the game and giving Liverpool some real problems. However, thanks to some good defending, Alisson’s skill, and some luck, the score remained level.
Near the end of normal time in the first half, Jota got a chance from an Andy Robertson cross. The shot ricocheted off of his foot and well over the bar.
The first half ended scoreless at Wembley.
Chelsea started out the second half as the stronger team. Only minutes into the start of play, Chelsea tested Alisson twice in quick succession.
It took about three or four minutes for Liverpool remember that they were playing a game of football, but when they did, things began to look much better. Trent Alexander-Arnold crossed in a magnificent ball right to the head of Robertson, who was in front of the goal but not expecting it. He didn’t get much power in his header. Then Díaz, the player who looked most likely to score in the first half, nearly got the first one. He turned and shot, but missed the mark.
James Milner was Klopp’s first tactical sub of the match. He replaced Keïta at 72 minutes in, with the game still balanced at 0-0.
In the last 10 minutes, it’s been all Liverpool pushing and pushing for that first, and likely, deciding goal. I don’t know how many different ways I can write “[Liverpool player] missed a big chance.” In your mind, just add like three more to the tally in about 90 seconds. The gravitational pull of the Earth refused to let Liverpool get the ball into the back of the net.
Liverpool took the break to sub out van Dijk for Joël Matip. Van Dijk continued to sit on the bench and looked comfortable, so hopefully that was a precaution rather than an injury.
Díaz, who had a gorgeous, if also frustrating, game, went off for the returning Roberto Firmino. The travelling Kop let known their joy at seeing him on the pitch again with a resounding rendition of his song. Honestly, that was the best thing that happened in this game so far.
Konaté held firm against a dangerous NGolo Kante, making it look casual as he plucked the ball from the attacking player’s feet. The game marched on, still somehow goalless as it ticked onto 10 minutes before penalties.
Robertson got subbed out in the 111th minute for Kostas Tsimikas. This seems like squad maintenance here as Klopp looks ahead to the other huge games in store for the Reds in the next weeks.
After watching 22 exhausted men who have all played 60+ club games and internationals this season jog around the pitch for 30 extra minutes, the game went into penalties again. It’s like they don’t care that it’s a sunny, breezy 75 degrees here and some of us want to enjoy it.
Final Thoughts and Man of the Match
Liverpool win!! Domestic cup double after a long, frustrating game. That’s two down, two to go!
Who was Liverpool’s Man of the Match against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final?
Virgil van Dijk