Match Report: Liverpool 2 Chelsea 2 (5-4 on pens)

Liverpool defeated Chelsea on penalties after drawing 2-2 AET to win the  European Super Cup for the fourth time. Something to celebrate at the end of a match that threatened to burst into life at the start of both halves but wasn’t helped by the temperature at pitch level and never really got going for long periods in the game. 

The game started at a decent pace, both teams had periods of possession and opportunities to attack. Both Sadio Mane and Giroud tried spectacular over head kicks, both ending up going wide, however Manè’s did take a deflection and may have came off Christensen’s arm – VAR checked it – no penalty.

The match didn’t settle down in the first 20 minutes and neither team was really able to get into a rhythm. Salah had the best opportunity so far and forced a decent save from Kepa from a tight angle. Chelsea immediately went down the other end and Giroud fired wide. 

As the first half wore on Chelsea grew into the game. Pedro hit the bar after an excellent combination with Pulisic on the edge of the area. They were taking the game to Liverpool who, not helped by the gruelling humidity of Istanbul, were sloppy in possession,  Joel Matip the main culprit. 

On the 30th minute Manè had a free header from a corner at the back post but could only find a team mate in the crowded box and the ball trickled through to Kepa. Half an hour in and the game had slowed down. Chelsea were starting to find gaps in the Liverpool defence, espescially the pace of Pulisic and Pedro threatening in behind – problems that were also there on Friday night at Anfield. 

33 minutes in and Adrian did really well to smother at the feet of Kovacic. Four minutes later and Giroud had put Chelsea 1-0 up with a tidy finish. Chelsea had really came into the game and their lead was no more than they deserved. Liverpool had a late flourish in the first half with combinations from Manè and Salah but the attacks just didn’t click at the right time. Half time.

The second half began and Klopp brought on Firmino for Oxlade-Chamberlain who was largely ineffectual in the game. Liverpool controlled the half from the start and Manè scored an equaliser on the 48th minute after Kepa saved a shot from Firmino who was found by Fabinho behind the Chelsea defence. 1-1. 

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Kante did everything he could in the Chelsea midfield to stop Liverpool’s continued attacks, he was excellent but Liverpool looked menacing, espescially the front three. Firmino had changed the game. 

The 52nd minute and Kepa made an excellent save to a deflected shot from Henderson. Firmino continued to find pockets of space behind Chelsea’s midfield. 64 minutes in and Milner was taken off for Wijnaldum. Milner failed to make a huge impact in the game and probably could have been taken off earlier. 

The game had settled down from the frantic pace at the start of both halves and much like the first half Chelsea started to grow into the second. In the 75th minute Kepa produced a ridiculous double save from Salah and Van Dijk respectively to stop Liverpool from taking the lead. Frank Lampard then made a double change: Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount came on for Giroud and Pulisic. Pulisic, it has to be said, looks already made for the Premier League with pace and direct running.
From then on in Liverpool started to control the game but the game was void of any real bright attacks. Henderson and Azplicueta were both booked for cynical fouls and in the process stopping opposition attacks. The game started to fizzle out in the last 10 minutes with the only real piece of action coming with the last kick of the game as Salah fired across goal but was unable to find the net or Firmino. Full time 1-1. Both halves had started well and the game looked full of action and attacking football. However, as the game wore on the football slowed and the players looked like they were finding it hard to cope with the heat.

Extra time was something that probably neither managers wanted with the weekend in mind but it added to the spectacle nevertheless. Trent Alexander-Arnold replaced Robertson and Joe Gomez moved from right to left back. 

A very quiet start to the first half in extra time was ignited by a lovely combination down Liverpool’s left from Firmino and Manè. Manè’s  powerful strike clipping the underside of the bar. 2-1 Liverpool. 

All Liverpool needed to do was hold on and maybe shut up shop. The super cup looked within touching distance. But Chelsea came back at Liverpool. Adrian made an excellent save from Tammy Abraham after he had held off van Dijk from a ball through from Jorginho. 

Tammy Abraham was involved again when chasing a ball down in the box and getting his toe to it before the onrushing Adrian. Abraham hit the ground and the referee gave a penalty. Replays show that there was, if any, very little contact made by the Spaniard on Adrian. The stadium, and everyone at home that saw the replays, must have been waiting for VAR to intervene. The decision was only confirmed by the technology and the female referee’s excellent performance for the entire match will be overshadowed by this decision which is a shame. It simply wasn’t a penalty. 

Jorginho wrong footed Adrian and scored. 2-2. Klopp then replaced a probably very tired Sadio Mane with Origi, no doubt with Southampton in his head. In the 103rd minute Tammy Abraham missed an excellent chance to give Chelsea the lead. It just wasn’t his night. Half time in extra time. The players seemed to have given everything and the game had came to life in this first half of extra time. 

The second half in extra time dragged and both teams seemed to be settling for penalties. A booking for Trent and a decent save by Adrian from a shot from Mason Mount was the only real action of note. Longer and slower periods of possession for both sides led to another Penalty shootout for us to sit through. 

The first nine penalties in the shootout were scored by Firmino, Jorginho, Fabinho, Barkley, Origi, Mount, Trent, Emerson and Salah. All Chelsea’s penalties were scored with relative ease but Kepa got close to Trent’s and Origi’s. 

Tammy Abraham stepped up for his sides fifth penalty. He seemed to take forever to begin his run up. He drilled the ball down the middle and it was Saved by Adrian! Liverpool’s new hero. The Spanish goalkeeper- released by West Ham in June is now a European champion. What a story!

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To summarise, Liverpool have won another trophy. They’ve beaten another top six rival in another final. It’s been a while since we were able to say any of those things which is why it should be celebrated.  It would have been naive to think that there wouldn’t have been a reaction from the Chelsea team that got beaten 4-0 at Old Trafford but I did expect us to beat them more comfortably.

However, it was a final and all that matters is the trophy. The defence will need to tighten up but I’m sure Klopp will have this on his mind and the mistakes will be rectified.  Manè was hands down our man of the match with his two goals but Firmino was also a class act when he came on and of course Adrian was the hero who delivered the trophy. Next is a trip to St. Marys where memories of our dramatic 3-1 win there last season, deep into the title race, are still fresh. YNWA.

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