Liverpool held their nerve as they beat Chelsea 5-4 on penalties after extra time in the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul.
A fully packed Vodafone Park hosted the high octane fixture and the teams exhibited the same amount of energy the crowd had when Liverpool started out in the front foot. They looked to breach Chelsea’s defence that conceded four goals at Old Trafford on Sunday within the first ten minutes but an improved display by the back four kept them at bay.
Chelsea gradually started getting into the game with some impressive recoveries in the midfield and the ever-present N’golo Kante made a clear impact on his full return after injury. Lampard’s decision to go with a 4-3-3 was effective with the team making some impressive moves all over the pitch. The defensive work put in by the front three was vital and it helped them break at times.
Fifteen minutes into the game, Liverpool started losing control and Chelsea began their dominance. The Blues broke the deadlock in the 36th minute when Pulisic who was running towards the inside of the pitch picked out a wonderful ball to find Olivier Giroud behind the Liverpool backline who slotted it past Adrian with conviction to give Chelsea the lead.
There were other chances in the first half that lacked the finishing touch in the final third. But going into halftime the Blues were leading 1-0 and put on a solid display.
Jurgen Klopp had left Roberto Firmino on the bench and had started Oxlade-Chamberlain who was nowhere to be found in the first half. Firmino’s introduction in the second half made an instant impact as he set up Sadio Mane to score the equaliser. That is when Chelsea’s defence started to flutter.
A string of attacks by the Champions League winners put a lot of pressure on Chelsea but Kepa’s brilliant saves and quick reaction time meant the Reds couldn’t get more.
As the game slowed down, substitutions were made by both teams. The arrival of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham added pace to the attack and Mount had a wonderful goal disallowed for a marginal offside. Pulisic had one disallowed earlier too.
With nothing to separate the teams, the match was taken into extra time. Liverpool were fitter than Chelsea and got the second goal when a sloppy pass gave the ball to Mane who released Firmino. The Brazilian’s cutback found Mane owing to Chelsea’s lazy defending and the Senegalese sent it home with a fine finish.
Chelsea attacked with whatever energy they had and luck favoured them when Tammy Abraham was brought down in the box by Adrian. Jorginho stepped up and scored the penalty. After 120 minutes and tied up scores the teams went to penalties.
Liverpool took the first kick and scored all their penalties, but Kepa could have easily kept two of them out with a little more effort in what was a good night for him otherwise.
Chelsea had to score their last penalty to stay alive but Abraham’s shot lacked conviction and Adrian made an easy save to hand Liverpool the Super Cup.
Both teams played well and either of them would have been worthy winners. The Blues should take pride in their display and hope to build on it when they take on Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday in Lampard’s first home game in charge.