Liverpool’s affinity with lifting European silverware after penalties in Istanbul continued on Wednesday as they were crowned UEFA Super Cup champions, beating Chelsea 5-4 on penalties at Vodafone Park.
The Reds fought back in the second half after a dismal opening 45 minutes, and after equalising, caused Chelsea issues for a 10-minute period. They took the lead and were unlucky to see a penalty given against them. Roberto Firmino enjoyed another impressive, instrumental performance, and Sadio Mane showed no signs of tiredness following just a two-week offseason.
Liverpool’s midfielders may as well have remained in the dressing room during the opening half given the way Chelsea sliced through centrally as though they had the freedom of the pitch. The lack of balance and compactness to the side’s shape put the defence under enormous pressure, while the attackers were starved of service. There were too many occasions where there was no pressure on the ball, and passiveness is not a trait this team is tagged with. Liverpool are nowhere near as threatening without the creativity of their full-backs.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — Jurgen Klopp watched his midfield struggle terribly in the first half, with Jordan Henderson and James Milner pulling wide, which allowed Chelsea to overload the central area, isolating Fabinho and giving N’Golo Kante license to thrive. The German was fortunate to see his side just 1-0 down at the interval. He introduced Firmino for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at the start of the second half, which altered the game immediately.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Adrian, 6 — Produced a crucial save at the feet of Mateo Kovacic after Pedro had slid him in on 32 minutes, but could have done better with Olivier Giroud‘s low finish, which went under him. Was brilliant with his feet to thwart Tammy Abraham, but conceded an unconvincing penalty right after, and was sat down by some cool Jorginho technique on the ensuing spot kick. Did well to stop a Mason Mount strike in the second half of extra time. Won the game by saving Abraham’s penalty with a trailing leg.
DF Joe Gomez, 5 — Cut out a dangerous ball from Kante, but Chelsea had too much joy down his side. Gomez doesn’t offer the attacking threat of Trent Alexander-Arnold, and with Liverpool’s midfield failing to create in the first half, that was a problem. Cleared from Abraham late on. Switched to left-back after Andy Robertson‘s withdrawal.
DF Joel Matip, 5 — Had an important challenge to prevent Christian Pulisic getting a clear shot inside the box in the opening five minutes. Was positionally poor as Liverpool were under pressure due to ceding the midfield. Beaten for pace too easily more than once.
DF Virgil van Dijk, 6 — Not the centre-back’s easiest evening given the gigantic gaps in front of him. Had a shot on 74 minutes that Kepa Arrizabalaga superbly saved onto the bar. Blocked Pedro’s effort as both teams pushed for a winner.
DF Andy Robertson, 5 — Stellar defending to deny Pedro an effort on goal 21 minutes in, but was troubled by the Spain international. His attacking contribution was curbed as a result.
MF Fabinho, 6 — Was swamped in the first half when he had to act as a one-man midfield, with Chelsea crowding and causing him all sorts of problems. His lovely lofted ball led to Mane’s goal. Improved with Georginio Wijnaldum‘s introduction as he had greater protection in the centre. Scored his penalty.
MF Jordan Henderson, 6 — Delivered some good crosses, but along with Milner, was part of the reason Liverpool were picked apart so painfully by Chelsea as the pair kept funnelling wide. Much better in the second period, but didn’t win many of his duels.
MF James Milner, 5 — Completed four key passes, but the 33-year-old laboured through the game before being replaced by Wijnaldum. He was dispossessed quite often as Chelsea took command of midfield in the first half.
FW Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 5 — Some bright touches in the opening minutes, but failed to tattoo himself on a game that would have been better served if he started in central midfield rather than on the left wing. Made way at half-time for Firmino.
FW Sadio Mane, 8 — Attempted an overhead kick early on that looked like it should have been a penalty for handball as it hit Andreas Christensen‘s hands. Wasn’t supplied enough in the first 45, but was then decisive to draw Liverpool back into the game before putting them ahead with a stunning finish with 95 minutes on the clock.
FW Mohamed Salah, 7 — Forced a save from Kepa on 16 minutes, but like Mane and Oxlade-Chamberlain, was watching the deficiencies of the midfield rather than receiving service from the trio. Came to life, as did the rest of his teammates, with the introduction of Firmino. Had a shot blocked on 74 minutes. Scored his penalty.
FW Roberto Firmino, 8 — Was on the pitch for three minutes before directing Fabinho’s ball over the top towards Mane for Liverpool’s equaliser. Transformed the side immediately and was the provider again for the Senegal speedster’s second of the night. Scored his penalty.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 6 — Aided Liverpool’s intention to be more compact and provided two key passes.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 6 — On for Robertson in extra-time and received a yellow card for stopping Mount on the counter. Scored his penalty.
FW Divock Origi, NR — Replaced Mane on 103 minutes. Scored his penalty.