What a match, what a great match. In what must go down as one of the greatest games of football (certainly this season) Liverpool beat West Ham in a penalty shoot out after extra time finished 3-3.
To leave it at that would not tell the full story. It was immense final. West Ham took a 2-0 lead before Djbril Cisse knocked in one before the break. The atmosphere in the pub, while subdued when West Ham were 2-0 up, suddenly sprung to life. 2-1 was a good place to be at half time, as Liverpool were not playing well.
Following a break, and a well executed corner, Steven Gerrard blasted a screamer into the top right hand corner of the net to equalize, and the pub went ballistic. They were silenced a few minutes later when West Ham began asserting their dominance on the game again, and took the lead with a Paul Konchesky moment of brilliance/fluke: chipping a back peddling Reina from the right wing.
The clock wore on, and the pub seemed resigned to not winning the FA Cup. After 90 minutes, Sissoko went out injured, and Scaloni put the ball out of play in a sportsmanlike fashion. Liverpool returned the ball to Scaloni who cleared it only as far as Gerrard, who rifled the ball from 30-40 yards out into the back of the net. We’ve got extra time.
Extra time was a struggle, as it was like a battlefield. Cisse, Sissoko, Harewood and Gerrard all picking up injuries and still continuing. Harewood could barely walk, and there will be a lot of sore people from both ends (so much so that certain people are calling for a fourth sub to be used in extra time, which is a pretty good idea). It went to penalties, and although Hislop saved 1 penalty from Liverpool, Reina made two crucial stops to gift the FA cup for Liverpool.
It’s certainly the greatest cup final I’ve ever seen, the only thing that tarnished it was that it was against West Ham on the losing end – one of the “good guy teams” (the teams, not the fans, who have a reputation for being hard asses), and you couldn’t help but feel sorry (well, I couldn’t). If it was somebody like Chelsea, it would of made it so much sweeter. I understand that not many of my readers love the beautiful game, but I urge you to watch this game, as it could convert you. It certainly dicked all over the Arsenal vs. Man U final last year, which again went to penalties, but had 120 minutes without a single goal.
We headed into town after the game and – whilst not on Champions League night level – it was certainly fun to be out in town for a little while, and soak up the atmosphere.
Righty ho, more about the weekend to follow soon. I’m heading off home now with two massive bags of stuff. Not looking forward to lugging them around!