Konstantinos Tsimikas scored the winning penalty as Liverpool prevailed 6-5 on penalties to beat Chelsea in a tense 2021-22 FA Cup Final.
A goalless match saw both teams constantly waste chances in a game of little quality as Chelsea saw penalty appeals in extra-time denied, after Hakim Ziyech was fouled by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Cesar Azpilicueta initially missed Chelsea’s second spot-kick which gave Liverpool the initiative until Edouard Mendy saved Sadio Mane’s penalty to send the tie to sudden death.
Mason Mount then saw his penalty saved in the seventh round of penalties which allowed Konstantinos Tsimikas to fire his penalty into the bottom left-corner, which secured Liverpool an eighth FA Cup title and this season’s domestic cup double.
Having avoided defeat in their last 15 matches across all competitions, Liverpool made a quick start as they quickly pressed a sluggish-starting Chelsea who struggled to settle into the match in the opening minutes.
Liverpool’s fast start very nearly paid off as Luis Diaz on the left flank delivered a low third minute cross which evaded Thiago’s reach as the ball rolled across the box, with the return cross headed over by Mohamed Salah.
Five minutes later, Diaz again saw another low cross evade his teammates but moments later, he broke forward from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s bent diagonal cross and cut in to shoot only for Edouard Mendy to block and Mane fired wide on rebound from Trevoh Chalobah’s clearance.
Further chances came and went for Liverpool as Chelsea eventually began to settle with their best chance in the opening half hour falling to Christian Pulisic, as the American flicked Marcos Alonso’s low cross wide of the bottom left corner in the 23rd minute.
Liverpool soon found themselves with injury worries as Alisson briefly picked up a knock following his 28th minute blockage of Alonso’s shot as the Spaniard clattered into Alisson on the follow-through, although he was able to continue.
Salah however wasn’t so lucky as he was withdrawn in the 33rd minute with a suspected groin injury as Diogo Jota came on as a substitute, with the Portuguese producing the last decent chance of the first half as he flicked over from Andrew Robertson’s cross on stoke of half-time.
Having initially struggled for a foothold in the first-half, Chelsea came out fighting straight after the break as Alonso fired wide from Pulisic’s cross shortly after the restart with Pulisic seeing a shot of his own saved moments later.
Diaz then missed a great opportunity to put Liverpool ahead in the 52nd minute as he fired wide from Jota’s pass, with the latter then firing wide himself seven minutes later.
Both teams then traded chances with little success as Diaz went closest in the 69th minute from just outside the box as he cut in, only for his curled effort to just fly over the top right corner.
Reece James was the first man to be served a yellow card after he made a sloppy 76th minute challenge on Thiago, which left the Liverpool midfielder initially concerned about his ankle before eventually continuing in the match.
Liverpool missed late chances to win the match in normal time as Diaz first played the ball across to substitute, James Milner who whipped a pass into the box but Robertson hit his volleyed shot onto the left post and the ball was cleared.
Virgil Van Dijk then headed wide from a free-kick just minutes later after Alexander-Arnold had been fouled by Mason Mount.
Diaz missed the final chance of normal time as he broke forward in the 90th minute but curled wide of the right corner, which ultimately resulted in the match going to extra-time for the 28th time in the competition’s history.
Liverpool opted to make a central defence change for extra-time as Van Dijk was replaced by Joel Matip, who had scored their equalising goal in Tuesday’s comeback Premier League win at Aston Villa.
Matip soon justified his appearance four minutes into extra-time as he blocked Pulisic’s shot before the corner was cleared to Mount, whose shot was swiftly cleared.
Mount then went close in the 99th minute as he cut in from the left but curled just wide of the right corner, before Thiago Silva three minutes later nodded over from a corner kick as Chelsea finished the first-half of extra-time on top.
Chelsea manager, Thomas Tuchel proceeded to make two changes as Pulisic and Chalobah were substituted at half-time in extra-time for Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Azpilicueta respectively.
Just one minute after the restart, Hakim Ziyech was fouled by Trent Alexander-Arnold but referee, Craig Pawson and VAR deemed the incident unworthy of a penalty much to Chelsea’s displeasure.
The rest of extra-time passed with relatively little incident which meant a third penalty shootout in the Grand Final of the competition’s history, as well as the first FA Cup Final shootout since 2006 which coincidentally also featured Liverpool as they beat West Ham after a 3-3 draw that season.
The opening two penalties were both scored but Azpilicueta fired Chelsea’s second spot-kick onto the right post, whilst Thiago proceeded to put Liverpool 2-1 ahead after the first four penalties as James and Roberto Firmino then both scored in the third round of spot-kicks.
Liverpool however retained their slender lead after Ross Barkley and Alexander-Arnold found the net in the fourth round of penalties, with the Merseyside club 4-3 ahead with two spot kicks left until the prospect of the sudden death stage of the shootout kicked in.
Jorginho scored to equaliser for Chelsea but Mane missed the chance to win the title for Liverpool as his shot was saved by his Senegal teammate, Edouard Mendy to send the shootout to sudden death at 4-4 apiece.
Ziyech and Jota scored in the first round of sudden-death penalties but Mount saw his penalty saved by Alisson’s left-handed punch.
Tsimikas proceeded to step up and fired his penalty into the bottom left corner to wrap up an eighth FA Cup title for Liverpool, whilst also securing this season’s domestic cup double as Jurgen Klopp’s Reds continue to chase a historic quadruple with Premier League and Champions League titles still on offer.
Chelsea meanwhile became the first team to lose three consecutive FA Cup Finals, having lost to Arsenal in 2020 then Leicester in 2021 and now to Liverpool.
Speaking post-match to BBC Sport, Tsimikas admitted that his team “gave it absolutely everything” to win, although their focus is now immediately onto the Premier League title race ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Southampton.
On his decision to take the seventh penalty, the Greek defender said: “It’s very, very special for me. The manager asked me which number I want. I say number seven. He asks me why so far? I say I want number seven.
“And number seven gave me the opportunity to win the game. I choose the right side and I score. And I am very happy with that.”
Liverpool are back in Premier League action on Tuesday 17 May as they visit Southampton in a 7:45pm BST kick-off, knowing that anything less than a win would end their title hopes if Manchester City beat West Ham in their match on Sunday (15 May).
Chelsea meanwhile will be back in league action on Thursday 19 May as they host Leicester at Stamford Bridge in a 8pm BST kick-off, in a clash which was postponed in late February after Thomas Tuchel’s Blues reached the League Cup Final.
Chelsea: Edouard Mendy, Trevoh Chalobah (Azpilicueta 105′), Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Reece James, Mateo Kovacic (Kante 66′), Jorginho, Marcos Alonso, Mason Mount, Romelu Lukaku (Ziyech 85′), Christian Pulisic (Loftus-Cheek 105′, Barkley 119′)
Substitutes: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Cesar Azpilicueta, Malang Sarr, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Saul, Ross Barkley, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech
Liverpool: Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil Van Dijk (Matip 90′), Andrew Robertson (Tsimikas 111′), Jordan Henderson, Thiago, Naby Keita (Milner 74′), Luis Diaz (Firmino 98′), Mohamed Salah (Jota 33′), Sadio Mane
Substitutes: Caoimhin Kelleher, James Milner, Roberto Firmino, Joe Gomez, Curtis Jones, Diogo Jota, Konstantinos Tsimikas, Divock Origi, Joel Matip