sport news ROB DRAPER: Liverpool surpass Chelsea as superior side to bring an end to ... trends now

sport news ROB DRAPER: Liverpool surpass Chelsea as superior side to bring an end to ... trends now
sport news ROB DRAPER: Liverpool surpass Chelsea as superior side to bring an end to ... trends now

sport news ROB DRAPER: Liverpool surpass Chelsea as superior side to bring an end to ... trends now

Somewhere in Moscow, in a luxury villa, in an exclusive location, Roman Abramovich put the non-vintage champagne back in the fridge. Times are hard when he's down to his last few billion – and retired for the evening. The era dominated by the sanctioned Vladimir Putin crony ended as it began, ultimately frustrated by Liverpool.

Liverpool, that perennial thorn in Chelsea’s side in the Abramovich's era that now dies a slow death, cavorted around the pitch as their fans unleashed a thick plume of red smoke at one end of Wembley that hung like a haze in the north west London evening.

Of course, Abramovich, who oversaw 19 major trophies and two Community Shield wins, couldn’t be here. You put £1.6 billion into a side and you can’t even get a ticket for the final, if you’re enabling an aggressive unprovoked war provoked by your political mentor. His successor Todd Boehly was in the stands instead.

Liverpool beat Chelsea at Wembley on penalties to win the FA Cup on Saturday afternoon

Liverpool beat Chelsea at Wembley on penalties to win the FA Cup on Saturday afternoon

As a result, Roman Abramovich will have put the non-vintage champagne back in the fridge

As a result, Roman Abramovich will have put the non-vintage champagne back in the fridge

But as Kostas Tsimakos, an unlikely hero if ever there was one, tucked the 13 penalty of the day into the bottom right hand corner, there was a symmetry to familiar joust between these two teams. At the start of Abramovich’s days, Chelsea reigned in the league but couldn’t get past Liverpool in those epic semi finals in the Champions League, the trophy he really wanted.

Back then, Liverpool couldn’t compete financially. But over time, they have surpassed Chelsea. They are a better-run club and superior side. And so here, in a superb contest – ignore the score-line, focus on the epic ebb and flow of the game – Chelsea came up short. Only just, but it will feel a bitter blow nonetheless, having lost the Carabao Cup final to Liverpool in precisely the same circumstances.

Generally under Abramovich Chelsea have found a way to win these set-piece occasions. Whether that be the Camp Nou and Munich in 2012 or winning a Europa League final in a below-par season or with tactical adjustments in their most recent league titles under Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte.

Abramovich, who claimed 19 trophies and two Community Shields, couldn’t be at Wembley

Abramovich, who claimed 19 trophies and two Community Shields, couldn’t be at Wembley

Tuchel continued that tradition in Porto, last year, against a superior Manchester City side in the Champions League final, where he kept his cool against a strangely rattled Pep Guardiola. Again, they did so on penalties, in the UEFA Super Cup against Real Villareal, hanging in at times but getting the job done. Then there was the FIFA World Club final, for which they were overwhelming favourites yet were taken to extra time. A penalty three minutes from the end saw them lift that Cup.

Even here in the penalty shoot out, when they went 5-4 down and were on the cusp of losing, Edouard Mendy saved them, with a dive to his left to deny his Senegal team-mate Sadio Mane. Chelsea, back from the dead, were on the front foot when Hakim Ziyech scored their sixth spot kick and Diogo Jota had to score to keep Liverpool in it. He did. Mount then missed, Alisson saving brilliantly, a strong hand up to his left and having to ensure he jumped and picked up the rebound which was spinning towards goal. Had he over celebrated his good work would have been in vain. He set the stage for Tsimmikas’s moment of glory. He seized his moment and Chelsea’s durability was nothing but an impressive footnote.

Here, it had seemed early on they had met their match. Just as in the semi-final at Wembley, Liverpool roared out of the traps.

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