Liverpool have won the UEFA Super Cup after a penalty shootout victory over Chelsea in an entertaining, but exhausting, clash on a boiling hot night at the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul.
The Europa League winners had the better of the first half and looked dangerous on the counter-attack, none more so than when Pedro smashed the crossbar from close-range after some smart link-up play with Olivier Giroud.
The Blues took a deserved lead in the 36th minute as Giroud calmly slotted the ball past Adrian after an inch-perfect pass from the excellent Christian Pulisic.
Jurgen Klopp clearly gave a heck of a half-time team talk, and his side equalised shortly after half-time as Roberto Firmino reacted quickest to Fabinho’s defence splitting chipped-pass, and he laid off Sadio Mane for a tap-in.
Kepa pulled off a stunning double save from both Salah and Van Dijk, with the second being an extraordinary close-range stop to keep Chelsea level, who had two goals ruled out for offside.
Liverpool took the lead five minutes into extra-time after Firmino laid off a free Mane on the edge of the area, who smashed the ball into the top corner.
Chelsea equalised soon after thanks a Jorginho penalty following a rash challenge from Adrian, who brought down Tammy Abraham.
Key Talking Point
After a good, if not totally convincing display against Norwich in their Premier League opener, Jurgen Klopp’s side were strong favourites going into the clash, with Oxlade-Chamberlain making his first start for 16 months.
This was more like a Liverpool home game due to the sea of red shirts present in the stadium, and they would have been concerned with the defensive frailties that were on display in the first half, and also with an uncharacteristic lack of movement off the ball when in possession.
Klopp would have been disappointed by not only how Chelsea appeared much more alert, but how often their opponents were allowed in behind the flanks, with Van Dijk also getting noticeably irritated with his teammates.
Liverpool trailing at half-time in a Cup final in Istanbul.
Liverpool fans: THIS HAS HAPPENED TO US BEFORE! I DON’T KNOW IF YOU HEARD ABOUT IT?
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) August 14, 2019
They were a totally different team in the second half, with Klopp’s words clearly still ringing in their ears, but their insistence on playing a high defensive line looked a risky tactic.
They may have claimed yet another European trophy, but they will be feeling the effects of this marathon of a match for at least this weekend and maybe beyond, and Manchester City would have been pleased by not only the length of this fixture, but also how unconvincing their usually rock-sold defence appeared to be.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 14, 2019
Adrian the hero. Liverpool win the Super Cup 5-4 on penalties #LFC
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) August 14, 2019
Starting XI: Adrian (6); Gomez (4), Matip (6), van Dijk (6), Robertson (6); Henderson (8), Fabinho (7), Milner (7); Oxlade-Chamberlain (6), Salah (6), Mane (8*).
Substitutes: Firmino (7), Wijnaldum (6), Alexander-Arnold (6), Origi (6).
Star Man – Sadio Mane
Considering he’s barely had any time off thanks to his country reaching the AFCON final in the summer, Mane looked remarkably sharp.
His first goal was a simple tap in, but his second was an amazing finish which no keeper in the world could have saved.
He was a constant threat to the Chelsea backline whether he was on the left cutting inside, or playing down the middle, and his teammates should be very grateful that they have a player of Mane’s quality and hard-work in their side.
Key Talking Point
Following the horror show at Old Trafford on Sunday, Frank Lampard needed a reaction from his players against an excellent Liverpool side, who had two days extra rest.
He decided to temporarily ditch youth in favour of those who were influential in the club’s Europa League victory last season, and the first period justified that decision, as the Blues pressed brilliantly and hurried Liverpool into several mistakes, which was no doubt influenced by the returning N’Golo Kante.
Giroud was predictably held the ball up far better than Tammy Abraham did against Man United, and they looked especially sharp on the wings. All of a sudden, confidence was flowing through the team who couldn’t wait to get forward and go for the kill.
Entertaining Super Cup. Adrian can hardly believe he’s the hero of a European trophy win for Liverpool. Chelsea impressive though – and will look even better when Rudiger returns soon. Good night for Pulisic.
— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) August 14, 2019
Lampard would have been frustrated by how quickly his team conceded in the second half, which totally turned the tide of the game, though they did well to ride Liverpool’s wave of momentum and finished the ninety minutes strongly.
However, he would have been delighted with the response his team gave him, and the amount of chances created by the likes of Pedro, Pulisic and a lively Mason Mount will give the Stamford Bridge faithful plenty to be optimistic about, despite the unfortunate result.
I’m a bit confused on the penalty: leaving aside whether this specific one was a penalty or not, is it right that VAR won’t overturn it if they think the ref’s got it wrong, but they can see why the ref got it wrong? That doesn’t make a vast amount of sense to me.
— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) August 14, 2019
Starting XI: Arrizabalaga (8); Azpilicueta (7), Christiensen (6), Zouma (6), Emerson (6); Kante (9*), Jorginho (6), Kovacic (7); Pedro (8), Giroud (7), Pulisic (7).
Substitutes: Mount (7), Abraham (6), Tomori (6), Barkley (5).
Star Man – N’Golo Kante
In typical Kante fashion, he was absolutely immense in the centre of the park doing his trademark job of making life as difficult as possible for the opposition midfield.
His defensive work was of course magnificent, but he also started numerous attacks thanks his incredible hard-work, intelligence and excellent range of passing, and he put in complete midfield performance.
To put it simply, Chelsea would not have lost 4-0 at Old Trafford if a fit Kante had started, and it’s difficult to think of many midfielders better than him in world football.
Liverpool will look to make it back-to-back wins in the Premier League when they travel to Southampton on Saturday afternoon, before hosting Arsenal seven days later.