Jurgen Klopp hailed the impact of Luis Diaz after he put in a man-of-the-match performance for Liverpool as they beat Chelsea on penalties in the FA Cup final.
Saturday marked the second time Liverpool have beaten Chelsea on penalties at Wembley this season, having also done so in the EFL Cup final in February, where Diaz was similarly among the best players on the pitch.
On this occasion, Diaz had six shots – twice as many as any other player for either team – but did not score as the game ended goalless, denied by Edouard Mendy with his sole effort on target when through on goal in the first half.
In his post-match media conference, Klopp could not hide his joy at the performance of a player who only arrived on Merseyside from Porto at the end of January.
“What a boy, what a story, what a player… but he should have scored!” Klopp joked. “It’s so funny, we hug each other and all we shout is ‘Vamos’ or whatever, all I can speak in these languages.
“I feel lucky, he fits like a glove to our football and that’s really, really special.”
Liverpool have now lifted the FA Cup eight times – only Arsenal (14) and Manchester United (12) have won it more often.
Klopp was pleased with the latest victory as well as the performance, although he conceded Liverpool were fortunate to win on penalties, even if he did have an explanation for why his side are so good at them, having teamed up with a company called Neuro11, which specialises in improving sporting performance with brain tracking.
“My team know exactly what I feel about them. This is a trophy for the whole club,” Klopp said.
“We saw all the faces [of the fans] when we came here on the bus and could see what it means to the people, that we could make it is massive. Game 60 or whatever in an intense season.
2 – @LFC‘s Jürgen Klopp has become only the second manager to win the European Cup/Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup and the English top-flight title all with the same English club, along with Sir Alex Ferguson (with Man Utd). Etched. pic.twitter.com/uXNaMloQM9
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 14, 2022
“All respect to Chelsea. What a team, what a performance.
“In the end we all know penalties is a lottery, but we did it again. We work together with a company, four guys, we got in touch with them… one is a neuroscientist who said you could train penalties.”
Sadio Mane had the chance to win the final for Liverpool with their fifth penalty, having scored the decisive spot-kicks for Senegal in both the Africa Cup of Nations final and World Cup qualifying against Egypt earlier this year.
However, his international team-mate Mendy saved it, and the Reds boss conceded that it was partly his fault as he told Mane to go the other way to where he went in his Senegal successes to throw the Chelsea goalkeeper.
“Sadio’s penalty was 50 per cent my responsibility,” he said. “He knows the goalie so [I said he should] do it the other way around. How often in my life I thought it better to shut up.”
Klopp also had to field questions about the quadruple, on which he dampened expectations slightly after seeing his team have to play 120 minutes, with Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson all substituted through injury or cramp.
Liverpool have now won the EFL Cup and FA Cup, with a Champions League final still to come against Real Madrid on May 28. They still sit three points behind Manchester City in the Premier League with just two games remaining.
“I said before about the quadruple thing, its great we can talk about it,” Klopp said. “We sit here now, it’s already 20 past nine if my watch is right, and we play Tuesday night against Southampton.
“I think we will have to make a few changes. Last home game of the season for them, [it] will be incredibly tough. [The quadruple is] on if you like, but [possibly] off because of the [fitness] situation.
“This [second] part of the season, my boys drew against Chelsea, City and Tottenham and won all the rest. It’s insane.
“If it isn’t enough, we will congratulate City. We drew with them twice, we will have to see what we can do next season.
“We came from a season where no one in this room probably apart from me thought we could go again.”
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