46 min: Just wide from Alonso! Chelsea almost score after 36 seconds of the second half. Pulisic played a pass to Mount, who thought he was offside (wrongly as it happened) and ignored it. That allowed Pulisic to run onto his pass and cross deep towards Alonso, who pulled it down on the chest and drove just wide of the far post.
46 min Peep peep! Liverpool begin the second half.
Peep peep! No goals at Wembley, though both teams had chances in an unyielding arm-wrestle of a first half. Edouard Mendy and Alisson made excellent saves from Luis Diaz and Marcos Alonso respectively, while Diogo Jota, Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku all missed good opportunities.
Jota is on as substitute for Mo Salah, who went off with a groin injury/
45+2 min “Chelsea deserve lots of credit for how they handled an awful season,” says Phil Podolsky. “I thought that before the serious injuries to James and Chilwell that disrupted their entire setup, they looked close to unstoppable, certainly up there with the top two. As a Barca fan, I’m impressed with clubs whose DNA is ‘we’ll do the best with the hand we’ve been dealt’ as opposed to ‘we can only perform when we’re safe in the knowledge that we’re the best team in the world by quite a margin’.”
45+1 min: Chance for Lukaku! At the other end, Romelu Lukaku misses a decent opportunity. Jorginho stunned a nice pass down the inside-left channel to find Lukaku, who got half a yard on van Dijk but wafted over the bar from 10 yards. A relaxed Lukaku would have buried that.
45 min: Chance for Jota! That’s more like it from Liverpool. Robertson curves a superb cross to the near post, where Jota gets away from Thiago but flicks a volley over the bar. It wasn’t the easiest ball to take first time, but he was only six yards out.
43 min Konate blooters over from 30 yards. Since their explosive start, Liverpool haven’t looked particularly threatening.
41 min Mount plays a promising pass to find Lukaku in the area, but he’s instantly surrounded by defenders and the attack peters out.
40 min Jurgen Klopp has a moan to the fourth official about something or other. If he says what he really thinks, he’ll be suspended for six months.
39 min “If Liverpool were to be regarded as failures, then supporters of most clubs would take failure every season,” says Richard Hirst. “Seeing Fulham at Wembley in 1975 and in Hamburg for the Europa League final in 2010 are the highlights of my time as a supporter. Losing wasn’t failure; simply being there was success beyond anything I ever expected. A bit of perspective is required.”
38 min Pulisic and Mount look increasingly bright, Lukaku less so. Liverpool have dealt with him comfortably so far, almost contemptuously.
36 min It’s a more even contest now, and Thomas Tuchel will be happy at how Chelsea have recovered from such a difficult start. They’ve probably had the better chances.
34 min Chelsea are starting to look dangerous on the break. Mount angles an excellent pass to Pulisic, whose cross-shot is blocked by Konate. That’s not the first time a Chelsea player has run off Alexander-Arnold into the penalty area.
33 min: Liverpool substitution Diogo Jota replaces Mo Salah. It’s the same shape for now, with Jota on the right and Diaz on the left. They played on opposite sides at Villa Park on Tuesday.
32 min Now Mo Salah is down and it looks like he won’t be able to continue. It’s a groin problem, and Diogo Jota is preparing to replace him. The Champions League final – against Real Bloody Madrid – is 14 days away.
31 min Alisson is okay.
“One could argue that, even if Liverpool were to finish runner-up in the three remaining competitions, it’s still been a successful season for playing in every possible game, making every final, and running the budget behemoth of City so close,” says Rob Moore. “To get to all three finals is a season already full of successes. On the other hand, you could argue that losing in two of three finals would be a failure, though I’d call it a disappointment instead.”
That’s probably the word I’d use. It’s an interesting question, though. How, for example, do you define Bayer Leverkusen’s 2001-02 season? Failure doesn’t feel like the right description for a team who provided joy, fags and booze for all.
30 min Alisson is still being treated, but I think he’ll be okay. Alonson studded him on the side of the leg in his follow-through.
28 min: Big save from Alisson! That’s the best chance so far. Mount guides an excellent pass into Pulisic, who has space to turn and run at a backpedalling Liverpool defence. He gets to the edge of the area and plays in Alonso, whose slightly heavy first touch allows Alisson to come out and block the shot.
It’s a brilliant save, but Alisson has hurt himself in a collision of legs with Alonso.
26 min I can’t remember seeing Mane drop off as much as he has at the start of this game, and it’s causing Chelsea a lot of problems.
23 min: Chance for Chelsea! Thiago is still on the field, and seems to be moving okay. His crossfield pass sparks Chelsea’s best attack so far. Eventually James finds Mount, whose low cross is screwed just wide of the far post by Pulisic. That was a pretty good chance, though there wasn’t much pace on the ball for him to work with.
21 min Robertson darts inside James, uses Diaz by not using him and then shoots wide from 25 yards.
21 min Mendy comes to the edge of his area to head clear a through ball intended for Mane. It’s been a slightly calmer spell for Chelsea, though Liverpool are still the more dangerous side.
19 min “Hi Rob,” says Simon McMahon. “I’m with Klopp, and yourself. It’s the experience that matters. And of course there’s also the whole reality > expectation = happiness thing too. Celtic fans were protesting last season at not winning their tenth league title in a row. Dundee United fans in Dingwall today were on the pitch dancing like idiots after a fourth-place finish and qualification for Europe. One of our most memorable ever seasons was 1986-87 when we finished third in the league and lost both the UEFA and Scottish Cup finals. Anyway, let’s hope football is the winner today. It’ll be memorable one way or another…”
I’m sure you’ve seen it but there’s a really enjoyable documentary on that European run that appears sporadically on BBC Alba. In fact, here it is.
18 min Thiago fouls Kovacic on the right wing, just outside the area. Alonso’s free-kick is muck, straight into Alisson’s hands.
16 min Pulisic shoots just wide, though it wouldn’t have counted because of a handball from Lukaku in the build up.
“I hesitate to say it out loud but I was glad the opposition picked Lukaku,” says Ian Copestake. “But have we ever won with Fabinho not in our team? Get me STATS!”
15 min The incontrovertible state of this pass.
13 min Mane curves an excellent pass around Chalobah to find Diaz. He cuts back inside and has a shot blocked by Chalobah; then Alexander-Arnold has a shot blocked on the other side.
Chelsea might have to swap James and Chalobah for a while because Diaz is running riot.
12 min Thiago wants to continue but he’s limping heavily.
11 min A problem for Chelsea: Thiago Silva is down, and it doesn’t look great.
10 min “The reason for the yellow kit is that Chelsea consider it their lucky kit (for semis or finals),” says Ed Wall. “They’ve chosen to wear it above the blue kit in a final whenever possible over the last couple of seasons. Enjoy the match!”
Is that right? I love that even now, with all the data analysis and marginal gains and £97.5m signings, big clubs still believe in things like lucky kits.
8 min: Good save from Mendy! Alexander-Arnold spins an unbelievable pass with the outside of the right foot to put Diaz through on goal. He shoots too close to Mendy, who makes a partial block with his feet. The ball dribbles behind him and is booted off the line by Chalobah. Keita picks up the loose ball and rams it wide from the edge of the area.
That pass from Alexander-Arnold was despicable.
8 min Diaz beats Chalobah again, and this time his cutback is just behind Salah. Liverpool have started really well, Mane and Diaz in particular.
7 min Alexander-Arnold’s corner is headed away by Lukaku.
6 min Salah accidentally hoofs the ball straight into the face of Jorginho, with the ball deflecting behind for a corner. Salah checks that Jorginho is okay, and he is so she is.
4 min The first dangerous attack comes from Liverpool. Diaz runs Chalobah and crosses just in front of the stretching Thiago, and then Salah loops a header over the bar from Alexander-Arnold’s cross.