Liverpool wins UEFA Super Cup on penalties over Chelsea

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Tammy Abraham‘s pressure shootout effort was saved by Adrian and Liverpool took home the UEFA Super Cup on penalties after drawing 2-2 with Chelsea in regulation and extra-time.

Christian Pulisic started for Chelsea and was fantastic, picking up his first Blues assist on Olivier Giroud‘s opener in the first half. Sadio Mane got the first of his brace to bring the Champions League winners back level just after the halftime break. With the game 1-1 after regulation, Mane delivered a thumping finish five minutes into the added period, but a Jorginho penalty leveled the match back up minutes later.

Liverpool was the brighter side off the jump, as Kepa Arrizabalaga was required on 16 minutes to keep out Mohamed Salah who got past the Chelsea defense. The Blues then began to attack brightly down the left with Pedro but the Spaniard struck the crossbar, bringing back nightmares of the Old Trafford defeat over the weekend.

As both teams traded first-half blows, Virgil Van Dijk just fired over the bar as he looked to head home a 29th minute corner, and another set-piece brought an open attempt for Mane who forced a save from Kepa. Deputising for the injured Alisson int the Liverpool net, Adrian was on hand to make a superb charging save past the half-hour mark.

The opener came nine minutes before the halftime break as Christian Pulisic picked up his first Chelsea assist, beautifully charging into the attacking third on the ball and feeding a perfectly-timed Olivier Giroud run to get past the back line. The Frenchman finished one-on-one past Adrian from the left edge of the six-yard area, putting the Blues in front.

Pulisic appeared to have his first Chelsea goal as well just minutes later, but Pulisic was judged correctly to be offside on the buildup, nullifying his impressive chopped finish. N’Golo Kante was excellent in midfield, looking rejuvenated under Frank Lampard despite reprising his central midfield role on the right side of a trio as Jorginho continued in a more defensive role.

After the break, Liverpool had exactly the response they required. Roberto Firmino came on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and it bore immediate fruit as Fabinho pinged a looping ball over the Chelsea back line, and the Brazilian was on hand to receive the flick. Firmino poked it over to Sadio Mane just next to him, and the Ghanan got it past Kepa on his second attempt to level the scoreline at 1-1.

Chelsea struggled to get a foothold in the second half but past the half-hour mark they were back on the front foot as Pulisic had a volleyed effort from the top of the box go out off van Dijk for a corner.  The game ground to a halt with 20 minutes to go, but Liverpool came so close to going in front again on 75 minutes. A corner swung in and found an unmarked Salah at the far post, but his initial effort was blocked. It came to van Dijk back at the near post and somehow the Dutchman’s effort with the goal gaping was straight at Kepa who produced a fabulous reflex save to deflect the ball up and out off the crossbar.

Mason Mount came on for Pulisic with 15 minutes to go, and he nearly put Chelsea in front with the ball in the back of the net, but it was again ruled out for offside. The game progressed to full-time still level at 1-1, so extra-time was required to help decide a winner.

Mane grabbed his second goal five minutes into the added period with a thumping finish, played in by Firmino who delivered an exquisite cutback into the penalty area, perfectly weighted for Mane to then produce a thunderbolt strike. With Liverpool 2-1 up, Chelsea responded immediately as substitute Tammy Abraham was chopped down by Adrian in the penalty area and history-making referee Frappart – who had a stellar game in charge – pointed to the spot, with VAR confirming the decision. Jorginho made it 2-2 with a cool clipped penalty as Adrian crumbled the wrong way.

Abraham was dangerous in his appearance up front in place of Giroud, nearly giving Chelsea a winner just before the extra-time break, with his finish across the face of goal just beating the far post. Pedro and Mount both came close as well in the second half, but the game went to penalties with no winner produced. In the shootout, every penalty taker scored until the death when Abraham’s must-score effort was saved by Adrian to give Liverpool the victory.