Jurgen Klopp hailed his Liverpool team "mentality monsters" after leading the Reds to their first Emirates FA Cup in 16 years.
Liverpool kept their hopes of an unprecedented quadruple alive by beating Chelsea on penalties in the second domestic competition final in a row at Wembley Stadium connected by EE on Saturday evening.
Like in February’s EFL Cup Final, Liverpool and Chelsea were unable to score inside the initial 90 minutes and extra-time.
Once again, penalties went to sudden death and after England star Mason Mount’s spot-kick was saved by Alisson, it was left to Kostas Tsimikas to score the deciding penalty to make it 6-5 in the shootout.
The Emirates FA Cup was the only trophy alluding Klopp during his hugely successful reign in charge of Liverpool and the competition’s importance to the German was clear to see as he celebrated with the fans after the final whistle.
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) May 14, 2022
Klopp said: "Outstanding, it was an incredible, intense game against Chelsea – they would have deserved it [the win] exactly the same way, like in the Carabao Cup – that’s how small the margins are.
"I couldn’t be more proud of my boys, 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 they 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."
Liverpool came flying out the blocks, as Luis Diaz in particular gave Trevoh Chalobah a torrid time in the opening quarter of an hour.
It was Diaz who forced Edouard Mendy into the first save of the match, with Chalobah clearing the subsequent rebound, but for all of Liverpool’s first-half dominance in possession, Chelsea’s threat on the counter-attack meant they had some of the best chances of the first half, with Marcos Alonso having a couple of efforts saved.
The Blues started the second period brightly, with Alonso dragging a shot wide of the far post, Christian Pulisic having an effort saved and Alonso hitting the bar, all inside the opening three minutes after the restart.
Liverpool then had a period of dangerous pressure but, like Chelsea, were unable to capitalise.
As the game headed towards the final stages, Chelsea enjoyed two moments of remarkable fortune, as the dangerous Diaz and Andrew Robertson both hit the outside of the post within a minute of each other.
Diaz continued to be the match’s greatest threat and as we entered injury-time, the Colombian went agonisingly close with a curled effort from outside the box.
There were few moments of note in extra-time as the teams once again went to penalties.
Chelsea were the first to miss, as captain Cesar Azpilicueta hit the post with his team’s second attempt.
It meant Sadio Mane had the opportunity to win it for Liverpool with his side’s fifth spot-kick, only to see Mendy produce a superb save.
Hakim Ziyech and Jota both scored their subsequent penalties so when Mason Mount’s effort was saved by Alisson, it was left to an unlikely hero, Tsimikas, to deliver the crucial knockout blow to Chelsea and win Liverpool their first Emirates FA Cup in 16 years.
Alisson said: "It's amazing, we did such a good performance. It was a shame we didn't score.
“It was a proper fight, we kept a clean sheet, and then afterwards the boys were unbelievable scoring the goals. I just had to save the last one.
"I am so happy. Both Mendy and I did amazing saves. I couldn't have done the saves without the help of the team. They work well and make it easier for me.
"It was a good save [against Mount] 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 made the save because we deserved to win this.
"It’s a fantastic moment, now we just need to enjoy."