By Matthew Ramirez – @Matt_J_Ramirez
Hero Adrián provided karmic justice to deny Tammy Abraham from the penalty spot, clinching the UEFA Super Cup for Liverpool in Istanbul.
The game finished 2-2 after extra time, with Olivier Giroud scoring the first goal of the game. A Sadio Mané double then put Liverpool in the lead before a controversial VAR decision saw Jorginho equalise from the penalty spot.
Jürgen Klopp made five changes from the side that defeated Norwich in their Premier League opener last week. Adrian replaced the injured Alisson, with Joel Matip, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mané all picking up their first starts of the season.
Liverpool started the match well and had an early chance to go ahead in the opening 15 minutes through Mohamed Salah. Good link up play between the returning Mané and Chamberlain saw the Egyptian released in behind the Chelsea defence. Salah powered his way into the box unleashing a low shot which needed Kepa’s intervention to keep the scores level.
Despite the early chance, the Reds were far from dominant. A mistake by the usual reliable Fabinho almost put Liverpool behind as Pedro gathered the ball and rattled the crossbar.
Just like at the weekend, Liverpool continued to look a threat from set pieces, with both Virgil Van Dijk and Mané going close within minutes – the Senegalese in particular testing Kepa.
It wasn’t just the Chelsea keeper who was kept busy as Alisson’s stand-in was called to prove his worth shortly after Kepa proved his. A well worked move from Chelsea saw Kovacic slipped through the middle, with the veteran Spanish keeper rushing out at his feet and successfully smothering the blue attack.
Good link up play between N’golo Kante and Christian Pulisic opened up the Liverpool midfield, with the American winger beautifully picking out Giroud who ran in behind the defence before slotting it past Adrian with ease. After 37 minutes Chelsea led 1-0.
Minutes later, Chelsea had the ball in the back of the net through Pulisic. The young American did well to find the bottom corner of Liverpool’s net, however a quick check with VAR showed the winger in an offside position and the goal was ruled out.
It didn’t take long for Firmino to make an impact, laying the ball off to Mané for the equaliser. A dink ball over the top by Fabinho found his fellow Brazilian 1-on-1 with Kepa. Firmino jumped and directed the bouncing ball sideways towards his strike partner who eventually tapped the ball into the net to level the scoring. After 47 minutes the Reds were level.
With this being said, Liverpool still looked dangerous when chances fell their way, particularly from set pieces with Salah and Virgil almost putting the reds ahead towards the end of the 90, with Kepa pulling off brilliant saves to keep Frank Lampard’s side level.
Despite their level of threat to the Chelsea net, the blues still gave Liverpool something to think about as they had yet another goal ruled out for offside. Mason Mount expertly dispatched the ball into bottom corner after escaping Joe Gomez, however the linesman had her flag up and the goal was immediately ruled out.
The Senegalese winger bombed down the wing and fed Firmino in behind the Chelsea defence. The Brazilian carried the ball to the byline before pulling it back to the arriving Mané who slotted expertly into the top corner of Kepa’s net. After 95 minutes the Reds finally had the lead.
Despite the presence of VAR, a controversial penalty was given against Adrian who did not seem to connect with Tammy Abraham. Nonetheless, a penalty was awarded and the Italian midfielder slotted home calmly to level the scoring.