Liverpool returned to Istanbul, after the 2005 miracle, and once again they were happy in the Turkey metropole. In Ataturk Olympic Stadium, the Champions League winner, defeated the Europa League winner, Chelsea, after an intense game that lasted 120 minutes. Two teams from the Premier League table, facing off outside England: deja vu?
After Alisson was announced to have an injury, that will leave the Brazilian in the sidelines for at least 6 weeks, it was time for the only Reds’ Summer signing to step up. Adrian, who arrived on a free transfer this Summer, was responsible for defending the Liverpool goal and he delivered pretty well. He made a couple of important saves and one specifically crucial.
Goals, saves and entertaining football
Let’s start with the beginning, shall we? Besides Adrian, Jurgen Klopp made another last-minute change in the usual line-up, with Joe Gomez replacing Trent Alexander Arnold as right back. To complete the backline: Van Dijk and Matip in the center and Robertson in the left. Henderson, Fabinho and Milner assembled in midfield, while Mane played on the role of number 9, while Salah and Chamberlain covered the wings.
As for Chelsea, Lampard set Kepa in goal, with Emerson and Azpilicueta as fullbacks and Christensen and Zouma in the center. Jorginho, Kante, and Kovacic covered the midfield, while new signing Pulisic, joined Pedro and striker Oliver Giroud in the attack.
It was precisely the French forward who would strike first blood in the match. After a great ball recovery from Kante in Liverpool’s midfield, setting up the counterattack, Pulisic delivered a perfect pass to Giroud, who did not fail in Adrian’s face. The top scorer of last year’s Europa League added another goal to his international record.
It took until the beginning of the next half for Liverpool to reestablish the balance in the scoreline. After a failed attempt of Firmino, who replaced Chamberlain in the second period, Sadio Mane completed with the last touch and the game was 1-1.
For the rest of the second half the game was pretty even, with Liverpool dominating, but Chelsea keeping focused on defense, with Kepa guarding the goal. For a neutral, this game was probably more interesting than the Champions League final itself.
End of 90 minutes and another intense extra 30
The 90 minutes came to an end with the score 1-1 and, since this match is decided in a single game, the conclusion had to be postponed to extra time. Still, it wasn’t enough.
Despite Sadio Mane striking another goal early in the first half of extra time, after an assist of Firmino, Chelsea were not beaten yet. Five minutes later, Tammy Abraham was tripped by debutant Adrian in the box and the video referee pointed to the penalty spot. Jorginho was called to decide and he did not fail the target. 2-2 and what a thrilling match!
The extra time ended with another draw and, as always, the game had to be decided in the penalty shootout. 5 penalties each and none of the teams failed until Tammy Abraham faced Adrian again. This time, like in a fairytale, Adrian redeemed himself and stopped the youngster’s attempt.
Liverpool won the 4th UEFA Super Cup of their history and Istanbul will continue to be a city that brings good memories to the Merseyside Reds.
The game, who anticipates the European season of football, also made history for being the first men’s international match with a female referee. Stephanie Frappart is an experienced French ref, with history in women’s competitions, but this Wednesday she achieved a new step into equality in UEFA.
Now it is time for both teams to return to their Premier League schedule, already next weekend. Liverpool will visit Southampton on Saturday, with Chelsea hosting Leicester on Sunday. Stay tuned and do not miss a match.