Liverpool have won the UEFA Super Cup final after defeatingChelsea after extra-time and penalties in Istanbul.
The final served an exhibition of exciting end to end football, as Olivier Giroud gave Chelsea a first-half lead, before Sadio Mane responded just after the half-time whistle following some excellent work from substitute Roberto Firmino. The duo again combined in extra-time to give their side a deserved lead, but it was 2-2 within moments, Jorginho equalising coolly from the spot after Adrian controversially brought down Tammy Abraham – with Chelsea unlucky not to steal the game late on.
However, it was from the spot where the game was decided, Tammy Abraham missing the decisive spot-kick as Adrian proved the hero on the night, with the Reds 100% from 12 yards.
Adrian The Unlikely Hero
Despite not even being a Liverpool player this time last week, the Spaniard deputised well in the absence of Alisson Becker, making important stops throughout before denying Abraham at sudden death. It will do his confidence no harm going forward, endearing him to his new supporters.
Firmino & Mane on Fire
The duo was at their sparkling best in this one, combining for both goals with the Brazilian firing home from the spot in the shootout. Firmino’s vision and ability to create space for others brought a different dimension to the Red’s attack, and it was Mane who flourished – finishing clinically when presented the opportunity on both occasions. It is early days in the season, but these two looks as if they are already rediscovering their best form, they picked up the rest of the side by the scruff of the neck – as the rest of the team looked sloppy at points.
Officials Are on Song
Stephanie Frappart, Michelle O’Neill and co got it right on the night, with some excellent decisions regarding the advantage rule having correctly ruled out goals by both Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount. Frappart made a bold call in awarding a penalty with Adrian adjudged to have tripped Tammy Abraham, but it looked as if there was sufficient contact. They did not let the occasion get the better of them and were more than competent in a first for men’s football officiating. If tonight is anything to go by, this won’t be the last major gig that the refereeing quartet are part of.
Liverpool There to Be Got At
Having looked vulnerable in defence in their Premier League opener against Norwich, Liverpool again seemed far from their best at the back with Chelsea having penned the Reds in, dominating the closing exchanges of the first half, whilst also shaky at set pieces. Chelsea had their fair share of serious opportunities, and more clinical sides will punish Jurgen Klopp’s side should problems persist. Were it not for some Virgil Van Dijk heroics, things could have got ugly at times. A lot can be attributed to fatigue, but it is very out of character.
Kante Back to His Best
Like a man with batteries in his shorts, the France international was simply everywhere you looked tonight – and one of the best players on the pitch. Whether it was dictating the tempo by coming short and spraying the ball forward, or dropping deep making interceptions and vital blocks – Kante was at his wonderful best, and that will come as a welcome boost to Frank Lampard and a Chelsea side that can often be overran on the counter.
Does 4-5-1 Suit Chelsea?
While it’s still early days for Lampard, his philosophy of 4-5-1 has proved a point of debate. In terms of going forward, it worked well with Christian Pulisic and Pedro impressing on the wings, while Kante sat deep in midfield allowing Mateo Kovacic to roam further forward. However, the Blues were caught out in wide positions, often exposed to 1-on-1 defensive situations, with Liverpool getting behind Emerson Palmieri on a few occasions. Such a formation needs a target man up top, and while he is a lethal finisher, Olivier Giroud’s lack of pace at times hindered the approach, with things improving seven-fold on the break after the introduction of Abraham and Mount – and the weekend’s hammering at Old Trafford should have been proof enough that allowing teams in behind you can prove fatal.
Extra Time A Hindrance to Both Sides
A draw is a result neither side will have wanted, with both facing league fixtures at the weekend. Liverpool will be extra fatigued given that their pre-season was shorter than other sides, with only seven weeks between the end of last season’s Champions League and the Community Shield. Liverpool at times looked less fresh than their opponents, and it will prove a worry. Having taken home the trophy, Jurgen Klopp will be happy – but the circumstances in which it was achieved are far from ideal.