Liverpool vs Chelsea: Super Cup joy for Jurgen Klopp as Adrian clinches penalty shootout glory

Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea (Liverpool win 5-4 on penalties): The Reds followed their Champions League triumph by winning the Uefa Super Cup in Istanbul

Miguel Delaney
Vodafone Park, Istanbul
Wednesday 14 August 2019 23:36
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As the minutes rack up for his players, so the trophies start to amount at Liverpool for Jurgen Klopp.

The German will probably be far more bothered about the former in the long run. But he still so jubilantly revelled in the moment of victory in the 2019 Super Cup, which came well into Thursday morning in Istanbul. That debutant goalkeeper Adrian made the key save in the shoot-out will only add to that euphoria: getting his Liverpool career off to the best possible start.

That it was one of Chelsea’s youngsters in Tammy Abraham who missed will add another complication for Frank Lampard, but you get the sense he will easily console him with the vast improvement in performance, from both the substitute and the team.

The Chelsea manager isn’t the sort of figure who would consider the Super Cup a trophy of significance, but he will see the significance in various elements of this game.

Most notable was how Chelsea lived with the European champions, as well as the huge impact of N’Golo Kante on his teammates. There was also the first impact of Christian Pulisic.

On the other side, beyond the unnecessary problem of players like Fabinho going down with cramp in already packed schedule, there was the goalkeeper’s display and the ever-developing relationship between Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

They still had to wait, though, as Pulisic finally arrived for Chelsea.

That came in the 36th minute. Having previously looked a little functional, he suddenly fired, picking up the ball in the Liverpool half and drawing four defenders to just accelerate past them. A huge space had been created, most notably between Joel Matip’s legs. Pulisic picked his spot through them, for Olivier Giroud to do the same with Adrian’s legs.

That followed Pedro smashing the bar and preceded Pulisic having a fine strike ruled out for offside, and it was clear that Chelsea were comfortable with the flow of the game.

That wasn’t quite the case when the flow changed, and Lampard’s team initially struggled to change with it.

The introduction of Firmino caused chaos, particularly for Liverpool’s equaliser. As was the case for much of the Brazilian’s time on the pitch, the Chelsea defenders didn’t really know where to go, or when to pick him up. It meant he was afforded the kind of freedom to so deftly square for Sadio Mane, who had an easy finish.

There followed a spell when it looked Liverpool would just overrun Chelsea, so often were they running in behind Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen. Kepa had not been brilliant for the equaliser, but he was superb on 75 minutes when he somehow touched a close-range Van Dijk effort onto the bar.

Liverpool won on penalties

No one can be blamed for tired legs leading the game to getting stretched in a needless extra-time period, but a Lampard backline getting stretched is a bit of a theme. So, however, is the link-up play of Firmino and Mane. There is a genuine understanding there. Some of Mane’s second was down to sheer irresistible force of Liverpool’s attacking, as Firmino streaked into the box to cut the ball back for the forward to instinctively thunder in off the bar.

Liverpool weren’t clear, though, because of a penalty that wasn’t completely clear. It certainly muddied perceptions of Adrian’s debut. The goalkeeper was adjudged to have brought down Abraham, and Jorginho slid the spot-kick past him.

Every other Chelsea player in the shoot-out would do the same… bar Abraham. Adrian stood strong. Liverpool were finally leaping about.

Another trophy. Although another long night.

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