Dreamland once again.
Having already won the European Cup, the Premier League, the Super Cup, Club World Cup and the League Cup under Jurgen Klopp, England’s foremost cup competition remained the final of the set, with the Reds digging deep to outlast a spirited Chelsea side and lift this trophy for the first time in 16 years.
Kostas Tsimikas would not have woken up this morning imagining he would be scoring the winning penalty in a shootout, but the “Greek Scouser” nerveless sent Edouard Mendy the wrong way in sudden death to send the red half of Wembley into raptures.
“It is very, very special for me,” Tsimikas, said speaking to BBC breathlessly after the game
“The manager asked me which one I wanted and I said I wanted the [seventh penalty]. I am very, very happy. I chose the right side!”
“We have two more goals to achieve—we go for it and hopefully everyone will be happy!”
“We gave it absolutely everything. We have to celebrate hard but tomorrow we focus again.”
With both sides playing in their 60th game of their seasons—Chelsea as a result of their finals runs in both domestic cups as well as their Club World Cup and Super Cup obligations, while Liverpool simply went as far as it’s possible to go in every competition—the match was a war of attrition as both sides swung big haymakers at each other and tired as the game went on scoreless over the 120 minutes.
Each side missed one of their initial five penalties, with Mendy saving his compatriot Sadio Mane’s on the fifth penalty. However, Alisson stepped up and denied Mason Mount before Tsimikas coolly slotted his own home to win the match.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my boys,” manager Jurgen Klopp said of his mentality monster squad.
“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.”
The trophy did take a toll however, with Mohamed Salah needing to be substituted in the first half after appearing to injure his groin and Virgil Van Dijk not playing in extra time after complaining of a knock. Thiago and Alisson also both came out worse for wear after heavy challenges but were able to soldier on.
“I think Virgil is fine but his muscle was hurt,” Klopp admitted after the game.
“I think Mo is a bit worse than Virg, he is okay. He felt it a little bit. I hope he will be fine. We have the squad.”
Van Dijk seemed to also confirm that the substitution was a cautionary measure:
“We’re going to check it out. I felt in the first half when I sprinted, I felt a twinge behind my knee, I played on. In the end, I can’t risk it for the team and I need to trust Joel. Hopefully it will be fine.”
With three games left in the season including a rematch of the 2018 Champions League final against Madrid, Reds supporters will celebrate this trophy and hope that their stars can bounce back for the run in.