Adrain hero in Liverpool Super Cup win

Adrian proved the hero as his penalty save earned Liverpool a 5-4 shoot-out win after a 2-2 draw with Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup.

Adrian – who joined Liverpool on a free transfer last week and may not have played but for Alisson Becker’s injury – kept out Tammy Abraham’s penalty to give Liverpool their first silverware of the season at approaching 1am local time in Istanbul, at the end of an entertaining encounter in the first all-English Super Cup.

Chelsea had earlier taken a deserved lead through Olivier Giroud’s smart finish (36) but the half-time introduction of Roberto Firmino swung the balance, and within 90 seconds he had set up Sadio Mane to level (47).

While the rest of normal time could not produce another goal, Liverpool went ahead five minutes into extra-time as a Mane rocket beat Kepa Arrizabalaga, but a soft penalty given when Adrian brushed Abraham inside the box allowed Jorginho to level from the spot (101).

Player ratings

Liverpool: Adrian (8), Gomez (6), Matip (6), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (7), Fabinho (7), Milner (6), Henderson (7), Oxlade-Chamberlain (5), Mane (8), Salah (7).

Subs: Firmino (8), Wijnaldum (7), Alexander-Arnold (6), Origi (6).

Chelsea: Kepa (8), Azpilicueta (7), Christensen (6), Zouma (6), Emerson (6), Kante (8), Jorginho (7), Kovacic (7), Pedro (8), Giroud (7), Pulisic (7).

Subs: Abraham (6), Mount (7), Tomori (6), Barkley (6).

Man of the match: Adrian

In the shoot-out, nine perfect penalties meant it was all-or-nothing for Abraham. His low spot-kick down the middle was kept out by Adrian’s feet, as the Spanish goalkeeper proved the hero and gave Liverpool victory.

How Liverpool lifted the Super Cup

Following their respective results at the weekend, there was an expectation on Liverpool to attack in front of a partisan crowd in Istanbul, where Chelsea’s fans were massively outnumbered in the stands.

Salah pulled a strong, low save from Kepa’s right hand in the early stages as the Reds began confidently, but once Chelsea rode out the early pressure they took control of the first half.

Pedro struck the bar from a tight angle and Mateo Kovacic was denied by some smart goalkeeping from Adrian, but they got their reward 10 minutes before half-time when Pulisic slipped Giroud through on the left, and he swept the ball across Adrian for a deserved opener.

Olivier Giroud kept up his excellent record in European competition for Chelsea
Olivier Giroud kept up his excellent record in European competition for Chelsea

A good start nearly became a great one before the break when Pulisic collected Emerson’s ball over the top, cut inside and powered a low effort inside Adrian’s near post, but his celebrations were cut short by a late offside flag.

The introduction of Firmino at the break bore fruit immediately as he reacted fastest to Fabinho’s dink over the top, squared the ball with Kepa caught out and left Mane the simple task of bundling home.

He continued to prove a major cause of concern for the Chelsea backline, setting up Henderson who forced a save out of Kepa minutes later, and giving Liverpool some much-needed bite in attack.

Sadio Mane scored a double on his first start of the season
Sadio Mane scored a double on his first start of the season

Chelsea again improved but had Kepa to thank for keeping the scores level with a stunning double save to keep out Salah’s drive before turning the rebound from Van Dijk onto the bar.

Half-chances came and went for both sides in the final half-hour but at close to midnight local time, the match went to extra-time without a winner in sight.

Five minutes into that extra period though the Chelsea net was left rippling by Mane, whose one-two with Firmino in the left channel set him up to power beyond Kepa with an unstoppable rising shot.

The drama was far from over with referee Stephanie Frappart, the first woman to officiate a major men’s European tie, having a moment to forget when she gave Abraham the softest of penalties after minimal contact from Adrian.

Stephanie Frappart became the first woman to referee a major UEFA men's match
Stephanie Frappart became the first woman to referee a major UEFA men’s match

Jorginho sent the Spanish goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot and ensured the match would go to penalties, where Kepa twice got a hand to Liverpool spot-kicks but could not turn either round the post.

Instead it was Adrian who made the only save of the shoot-out, keeping out Abraham’s effort with his feet to give Jurgen Klopp is his second Liverpool trophy, barely two months after his first.

Match facts

  • Only Barcelona and AC Milan (5) have won the UEFA Super Cup more often than Liverpool (4).
  • This was the 11th match between Liverpool and Chelsea in European competition, making it the most played European fixture between two sides from the same nation.
  • Olivier Giroud has scored 12 goals in 16 appearances in European competition for Chelsea, compared to just seven goals in 49 domestic games for the Blues.

Man of the match – Adrian

Perhaps Sadio Mane should get the Man of the Match trophy, but the performance Adrian put in nine days after entering the Liverpool dressing room for the first time was quite something.

An excellent one-handed save to keep out Mason Mount in extra-time and several other fine stops of  note across the 120 minutes set him up perfectly for his match-winning stop in the shoot-out, and few deserve that medal more than the Spanish stand-in who is already well on the way to becoming a cult hero on Merseyside.

published by Jason Onyekwere

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