Liverpool lifted the FA Cup for an eighth time to continue their quadruple charge as they beat Chelsea 6-5 on penalties. A thrilling final at Wembley saw both teams miss a number of glorious chances before the Reds added to their League Cup success back in February by claiming their second silverware of the season.
Jurgen Klopp’s side came out of the traps flying and almost took an early lead through Luis Diaz, who was denied by Edouard Mendy when in one-on-one; Naby Keita then flashed an effort wide after Chelsea failed to sufficiently clear their lines. With the Reds having dominated the early stages, Christian Pulisic then saw his side-footed effort dribble agonisingly wide of Alisson’s post against the run of play, before Marcus Alonso was denied by the Brazilian stopper.
An end-to-end first half also saw Diogo Jota, a substitute for the stricken Mohamed Salah, blaze over before Romelu Lukaku did the same down the other end. The second half started how the first ended as there was action from the off – Alonso first drilling one wide within a minute of the restart before Pulisic was again denied by Alisson and Alonso clipped the Liverpool crossbar with a free-kick.
After both sides squandered further chances, both Diaz and Andy Robertson struck the Chelsea woodwork late on in normal time as the Reds piled on the pressure, however it would take penalties to separate the two sides. Express Sport take a closer look at five things we learned from a exhilarating 2022 FA Cup final at Wembley.
Liverpool legacy confirmed
Despite having ended their 30-year wait for a top-flight English title by winning the Premier League back in 2020, 12 months after claiming a sixth Champions League, there have been question marks over whether this current Liverpool side have won enough silverware given their quality. Former Red Jamie Carragher has been among those making such claims, but on Saturday, Liverpool dispelled the ex-defender’s doubts.
Carragher previously admitted: “What this Liverpool team have done and what Klopp’s done, we all think they’re amazing, fantastic – they haven’t actually won enough for how good they are.
However, this Reds side have finally secured their legacy as they added an elusive FA Cup to their recent trophy haul. The accusation that Liverpool must add must cups to their silverware collection has well and truly been rendered void having already claimed the League Cup back in February with yet another win over Chelsea.
Klopp achieves FA Cup redemption
It’s fair to say Klopp has experienced a tumultuous relationship with the FA Cup since arriving in England back in 2015. Prior to this campaign, the German had failed to progress past the fifth round of the world’s oldest cup competition as he found himself heavily criticised for his approach.
Klopp has often fielded weakened starting XIs in those unsuccessful cup runs of the past as he has prioritised Premier League and Champions League commitments. Such an approach has led to the Liverpool boss being accused of showing disrespect towards the prestigious competition.
However, on Saturday, Klopp had the opportunity to silence his doubters and break his FA Cup hoodoo. Victory over Chelsea saw the German claim the one major honour in the English game which has so far evaded him and achieve FA Cup redemption by lifting the historic honour aloft.
Liverpool the masters of midfield
Heading into the Wembley clash, the big fitness concerns were with regards to either side’s midfield. Both Liverpool and Chelsea were facing the prospect of starting the showpiece without Fabinho or Mateo Kovacic as recent injuries rendered them both doubts.
While Fabinho didn’t make it for the Reds, Kovacic did for the Blues – much to the surprise of Klopp. However, Tuchel’s gamble to throw the midfielder in from the start didn’t pay off.
Along with Jorginho, the Croatian struggled to assert himself on the game as Liverpool emerged victorious in the battle for midfield. Thiago immediately seized control in the centre of the park and dictated play from the off, while Jordan Henderson provided the perfect cover in Fabinho’s absence, as Chelsea were carved open on countless occasions in the early stages in particular.
Liverpool turn Chelsea strength into weakness
So often this season Reece James has been Cheslea’s biggest threat. The marauding right-back, who possesses pace, power and genuine quality, has proven himself to be a constant danger down the right and integral to the Blues’ cause.
However, on Saturday, Liverpool turned Cheslea’s biggest strength into a weakness. With James always looking to offer an option in attack, the Reds exploited the space in behind the 22-year-old on countless occasions.
Trevor Chalobah was continuously left to deal with the ever-dangerous Luis Diaz on his own as James was caught out positionally time and time again. Opponents rarely get the better of the England star, however at Wembley, the Reds showed it can be done.
Reds face anxious Salah wait
Just 33 minutes into Saturday’s final, Liverpool were dealt an almighty blow. Star striker Salah, scorer of 30 goals this season, suffered a sudden injury which saw him swiftly substituted.
Not only did the turn of events serve the Reds with a significant setback in the FA Cup but it has also left Klopp sweating over the extent of the injury. Saturday saw the second instalment of Liverpool’s quadruple charge come to a close with the climax of both the club’s Premier League and Champions League campaigns still to come.
Salah’s injury could now have crippling consequences on the remainder of the Reds season. There can be no denying The Egyptian will be an enormous loss should he fail to be fit for the final three matches in Liverpool’s season and the thought of facing Real Madrid in fourteen days’ time without their talisman is a daunting one.