Virgil Van Dijk told Sadio Mane not to worry about his missed spot-kick in the FA Cup final, as he had played a ‘fantastic game’ for Liverpool.
Speaking to liverpoolfc.com after the final win on Saturday, Van Dijk shared what he told his teammate after Mane missed a penalty.
“Unfortunately, Sadio missed [a penalty], but he had a fantastic game.,” said the centre-back. “I said it to him as well, it shouldn’t take anything of that away. But to do it after so many games we’ve played this season and the performance we put in, I think it’s a good thing.”
As is the way in penalty shootout’s, someone has to miss. Thankfully for Liverpool, Mane was the only one in red who didn’t beat Edouard Mendy.
Mane’s mixed bag from 12 yards
It had looked to be all set up for the man of the moment to win the cup for Liverpool. Mane has been in sublime form over recent months and it seemed inevitable that it would be he who had the last say on Saturday.
The 30-year-old had famously scored the penalty that won Senegal their first AFCON trophy in February. Mane followed that up with the decisive spot-kick to send his country to this year’s World Cup finals too.
However, he has had a very mixed relationship with penalties, and that reared its head on Saturday.
Mane’s penalty actually wasn’t a bad one at all. The Liverpool number 10 got plenty of power behind the kick and it wasn’t badly placed either.
His countryman in the Chelsea goal read it well though, probably a result of the practice in training that led to those successful kicks for Senegal.
Jurgen Klopp shared that he suggested Mane went the other way to usual, a tactic Mendy read impeccably.
In the end, it didn’t matter. Liverpool’s mentality – and their incredible goalkeeper – came to the fore once more.
Without Fabinho and Mohamed Salah on the pitch, Chelsea might have fancied their chances. But James Milner promised he’d step up first for Liverpool, and he did.
Thiago Alcantara, Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold then followed before Mane fluffed his lines. It’s a team game though, and Diogo Jota, Alisson and finally Kostas Tsimikas rode to their teammate’s rescue.