- Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties for the second time this season to lift the FA Cup on Saturday.
- Afterwards, Jurgen Klopp praised the impact of a neuroscience company on his side’s win.
- “This trophy is for them,” he said.
LONDON – Jurgen Klopp said he used neuroscience to help Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties in a cup final for the second time this season as his side lifted the FA Cup on Saturday.
After a goalless 120 minutes at Wembley Stadium in London, Liverpool bested the Blues 6-5 in the shootout with substitute defender Kostas Tsimikas scoring the winning spot kick.
The win marked the second time this season the Reds have beaten Chelsea in a cup final shootout, having also done so in the Carabao Cup final in February.
On that day, Klopp’s side won 11-10 on penalties after a 0-0 draw. Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga missed the deciding penalty after being controversially substituted on by Blues manager Thomas Tuchel after extra-time specifically for the shootout.
Speaking to Insider and other reporters after Liverpool’s victory, Klopp hailed the impact of neuroscience in helping his side win.
“In the end, we all know a penalty shootout is a lottery, but we did it again,” said the German. “We work together with a company, four guys, there name is neuro11.
“We got in contact with them a few years ago I think. One of them is a neuroscientist who said he can train penalty shooting.
“And I said, ‘Sounds interesting, come over.’ We met, we worked together, and this trophy is for them obviously as well like the Carabao Cup was.”
Liverpool scored five of its six penalties on Saturday, with only Sadio Mane being denied by Chelsea keeper and compatriot Eduoard Mendy. Chelsea missed twice, first through Cesar Azpilicueta, who hit the post, and then through Mason Mount, who saw his tame effort saved by Alisson Becker.
“Sadio’s penalty was 50% my responsibility,” added Klopp. “He knows the goalie so [I said he should] do it the other way around.
“How often in my life I thought it is better to shut up.”
Liverpool’s victory kept alive its hope of winning an unprecedented quadruple — four major trophies in one season.
Having already secured the Carabao Cup and now the FA Cup, the Reds face Real Madrid in the final of the Champions League on May 28, while they also remain in the race for the Premier League title.
Klopp’s side sit three points behind league leaders Manchester City with two matches to play.
“Let’s just see what happens,” said when asked about the possibility of his team winning four trophies this term. “If [Manchester City] lose against West Ham then I will start thinking.
“If they don’t, we will judge that we will go from there.”
A goalless but thrilling affair
In what was the first FA Cup Final with a full attendance in three years, the atmosphere around Wembley Stadium before the match was electric.
Fans from both sides, who arrived packed like sardines on the subway trains, sang as they made their way down the historic Olympic Way, the sunshine glistening brightly just behind the stadium’s iconic arch. Thousands of others packed into the bars, enjoying beer and live music.
It was Liverpool’s fans who were the most vocal around the ground and they continued to be so inside.
Ahead of kick off, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” – the club’s historic anthem – rang out at a deafening volume and scarfs from almost every seat waved in the air.
Chelsea’s supporters tried to counter with chants of their own, most notably about the former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s famous slip in 2014 which handed the Blues the title, but it did little to drown out the noise from the West Stand.
Boosted by the support, Liverpool started the match much the brighter side and could have gone ahead within just three minutes when Luis Diaz found himself through on goal and crossed to the open Thiago, who couldn’t connect with the ball.
Just moments later, Liverpool came close again, Diaz this time attempting to tee up Mohamed Salah at the back post, only to miss the Egyptian by a slither.
It was all Liverpool. Diaz was running Chelsea’s Reece James ragged; Thiago was placing passes at will between Blues’ lines; and defender Ibrahima Konate was making the sizeable Romelu Lukaku look like an infant.
Suppressed by the Reds’ infamous gegenpressing, Chelsea couldn’t find a way out of its own half and resorted to launching the ball forward to Lukaku to no avail.
But as Liverpool continued to spurn chances, Diaz missing another, Tuchel’s men began to settle, Mason Mount finding joy in the pockets of space behind the Reds’ midfield where the injured Fabinho would usually be cleaning up. Before the break, the English midfielder had twice fed Christian Pulisic through on goal, but the American wasted both chances.
The second half started in the complete opposite fashion to the first with Chelsea flying out of the blocks and peppering the Liverpool goal.
Marcos Alonso fired wide a great chance straight from kick-off before Pulisic again fluffed his lines, directing Alonso’s clever pull-back directly at Alisson.
As Chelsea did in the first period, however, Liverpool soon composed itself and fired back with chances of its own.
Andrew Robertson is known for picking teammates out for fun but not for converting chances of his own and he wasted a glorious opportunity in the 50th minute when he was picked out at the back stick by fellow assist-king Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The Scotsman completely mistimed his shot and instead saw the ball deflect off his groin and into the grateful hands of Mendy.
Diogo Jota then curled just wide before he and Diaz both hit the post within moments of each other as Klopp looked on in disbelief that his player had failed to score in regular time, saying later that “he should have scored.”
With Chelsea and Liverpool having both played upwards of 60 games this season, extra-time proved to be a drab affair, the two sides clearly lagging from what have been grueling campaigns.
Both managers made changes for the inevitable penalty shootout – Klopp bringing on Tsimikas and Tuchel swapping Trevoh Chalobah for Azpilicueta.
And it was Klopp’s decision which proved to smarter of the two with Azpilicueta missing from 12-yards and Tsimikas making himself the unlikely hero by netting the winning spot kick.
As the Greek’s penalty nestled in the corner, Klopp, his coaching team, and the remainder of the Liverpool bench stormed the field, lifting the full-back in the air like Brazil did Pelé after the 1970 World Cup final in Mexico.
Red flares exploded from the Liverpool stand as the fans belted out a rendition of Dua Lipa’s “One Kiss” – which has become a club anthem since she performed it ahead of the 2018 Champions League final on a backdrop of a huge banner depicting Steven Gerrard kissing the trophy.
Given the manner of the Reds’ last two final wins over Chelsea, perhaps the lyrics should instead go, “One kick is all it takes.”