Adrian went from zero to hero as Liverpool edged out Chelsea 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw post extra time to win the UEFA Super Cup.
Liverpool started strongly, with Mohamed Salah testing Kepa Arrizabalaga early on. But, once Chelsea settled down, they thoroughly dominated the rest of the first half, with Olivier Giroud handing them a well deserved lead after being found by a smart ball by Christian Pulisic. The Blues thought they had doubled their advantage soon after, only to be denied by the offside flag.
Liverpool though, would turn the game around almost immediately after the break. After some terrible mix-up by the Chelsea defence, half-time substitute Roberto Firmino reacted smartly to give Sadio Mane had the simplest of tap-ins to score from to level things up.
Following the equaliser, the Reds continued to grow into the game, only to be denied by the brilliant Kepa time and again, as the UEFA Super Cup went into extra-time. Liverpool were again the stronger of the two sides to come out at the start of a half, with Mane scoring a brilliant goal after a fine exchange with Firmino, just five minutes in.
But, Chelsea hit back a few minutes later, and had Adrian to thank for bringing Tammy Abraham down in his own area. Jorginho took the resulting penalty, arguably a soft one, and calmly converted from the spot, thereby setting up a shootout.
The first nine penalty takers made no mistake in scoring their respective spot-kicks, meaning Adrian was up against Abraham once again. This time, the Spaniard would go on to become the hero, as he saved the shot to give Liverpool their fourth UEFA Super Cup. With the Reds winning their first silverware of the season, The Hard Tackle runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
🙌 Liverpool shoot-out heroes
— UEFA #SuperCup (@ChampionsLeague) August 14, 2019
What a week it has been for Adrian. From looking at getting only a handful of appearances for the season to already playing his part in lifting the first trophy of the season, Alisson’s injury has come as such a blessing for him. Made a couple of good saves on the night to deny Pedro and Tammy Abraham.
But, he then gave away the penalty that saw Chelsea equalise through Jorginho, although it was arguably a harsh decision. Thwarted Mason Mount late into extra-time, before becoming the hero for the Kop by saving the decisive penalty in the shootout, coming full circle to stop Abraham, who had won the equalising penalty in extra-time. Not just a stand-in anymore.
Joe Gomez: 5/10
With Trent Alexander-Arnold surprisingly benched, Gomez was the right-back for Liverpool on the night. The Englishman’s poor run continued, however, as he struggled to provide any sort of outlet, unlike his compatriot. At the back, he often left open spaces, which allowed the Chelsea attackers to have plenty of joy down his flank. Desperately needs to improve hereon out.
Joel Matip: 6/10
With Gomez the right-back, Matip started as Virgil van Dijk’s partner, in what was his 100th game for Liverpool. The night ended up being a mixed bag for Matip, who was precise with the ball at his feet, but was beaten for pace at times when Chelsea applied pressure. Did not take advantage of Gomez’s slip-ups.
Virgil van Dijk: 6/10
It has been a somewhat slow start to the season for Liverpool’s defensive leader, who wasn’t quite at his best on Wednesday either. With Chelsea relentlessly pushing forward, the Dutchman struggled to keep his backline organised and was second best at times against Giroud. One of those who were denied by the brilliant Kepa.
Andrew Robertson: 7/10
A performance akin to the one against Norwich City last Friday, wherein he hadn’t hit top gear. But, the industrious full-back was still the best defender on the pitch, with his recovery on Pedro being a standout moment. Not quite at his best going forward.
Jordan Henderson: 6/10
With Alexander-Arnold missing, Henderson had to do a lot of leg work and was often pulled out wide. As a result, a lot of holes were created in the central areas, which were picked up by Chelsea. Much improved after the introduction of Firmino, with the Liverpool captain settling into a familiar rhythm.
The creation of the aforementioned holes in the Liverpool midfield meant Fabinho had too much to deal with at times. Looked much more comfortable once Georginio Wijnaldum came on. Started the move that led to Mane’s first goal, with his lovely floated ball into the Chelsea box.
James Milner: 5/10
Making his first start of the season, Milner looked off pace and leggy, so much so that the game almost passed him by. Made four key passes, but that is just about the only positive thing to write about what was an underwhelming performance from the veteran.
Sadio Mane: 8/10
Fully back into the fold after regaining sharpness, Mane looked up to the task when he attempted an overhead kick early on. Like his teammates, he grew into the game upon the introduction of Firmino, with the Brazilian playing a determining role in each of his goals. The second in particular, was a splendid finish. A welcome return for the Senegalese speedster.
Mohamed Salah: 7/10
It is a testament to Salah’s fitness that he completed the entire 120 minutes despite starting a third time in the last 10 days. For much of the game, the Egyptian looked like the biggest threat for his side, but he, like many others, improved once Firmino was subbed on. Denied by Kepa in extra time but got the better of the Spaniard with the decisive penalty.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 5/10
A great moment for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was making his first start since recovering from his long-term injury. But, starting on the left side of the Liverpool attack, the Englishman looked rusty and did not manage to get into the game. Taken off for Firmino, which ended up being the game changing moment.
Roberto Firmino: 8/10
A surprise omission, perhaps to ease him slowly following his late return to pre-season training. But, once he was subbed in for Oxlade-Chamberlain, Firmino turned the game on its head, assisting Mane for both of his goals. Just indispensable in Klopp’s side, which just does not pose the same level of threat without his indefatigable presence.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6/10
Wijnaldum had his role to play in the win as well, helping Liverpool control the midfield better due to his tenacity. A much better presence in the midfield as compared to Milner, at this point.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 6/10
Introduced at the onset of extra-time, Alexander-Arnold did not make much of an impact. Converted his penalty, though.
Divock Origi: N/A
Barely had any time to make an impact in extra-time. Played his part in the shootout win over Chelsea.