Made the difference: Firmino changes the game in Istanbul despite not starting the Super Cup final

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By Scott Mason – @ScottMason00

Liverpool have won their first trophy of the season – the UEFA Super Cup. Jurgen Klopp’s men beat Frank Lampard’s Chelsea on penalties after the two sides were held to a 2-2 draw with 120 minutes played.

It was Chelsea who would dominate the first half and eventually they got their goal. Oliver Giroud put the Blues in front before the break. Liverpool looked very poor in the first half and the side needed a change.

This change would come in the form of Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian had been rested on the bench with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain taking his spot as part of the front three. The No.9 replaced the ineffectual No.15 at the break and his influence was noticed immediately.

The striker would collect Fabinho’s chipped pass into the box where he then squared it to Sadio Mané, who put the ball into the empty Chelsea net. An assist after only three minutes on the pitch showed an immediate impact from the forward.

Firmino would later link up with the No.10 in extra time, when a one-two between the pair would result in the Senegalese firing in emphatically off the crossbar and put Liverpool in front five minutes into extra time.

It wasn’t just the assists that made Firmino stand out. It was how Liverpool looked a completely better team with the Brazilian in it. The attack flowed with more fluidity and the link between midfield and attack was much better. Liverpool were able to create much better midfield-to-attack transitions while also creating more effective chances.

If the lacklustre opening 45 minutes from Liverpool showed anything, it was how much impact the Brazilian has on how Liverpool play. The second half proved this when the introduction of the ‘false nine’ would see the Red’s step it up a gear.

His involvement wouldn’t stop at the end of extra time. He was the first player to take a penalty in the shootout in Istanbul – a penalty he calmly scored.

An incredible performance from the Brazilian helped Liverpool to achieve their first piece of silverware in the 2019/2020 season and a performance that will make Jurgen Klopp think twice next time he wonders whether to start or bench Firmino.

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