Reds: Mane 48’, 95’
Blues: Giroud 36’, Jorginho (pen) 101’
It’s fair to say that the opening matches couldn’t have gone any differently for Liverpool and Chelsea. The Reds played City to a stalemate in that overblown exhibition, the Community Shield, and then battered newly promoted Norwich 4-1. Chelsea on the other hand got tonked by a bang-average Manchester United 4-0. Regardless, this one-off match is a final with a major-enough honor to be included on the wall at Melwood. So let’s win it, yeah?
There are a few line-up surprises, including Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino making way for Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, respectively. But Sadio Mane is back in, so there are definitely goals in the side.
There are MANY more Liverpool supporters in the stadium. To be fair, the Brexiteer Chelsea fans have probably already tossed their EU passports. Minutes in, and Mane already tried the audacious, a bicycle kick from around the penalty spot; it appeared to be on target, were it not for Andersen’s outstretched arm. However, the Dane was (probably correctly) adjudged to be too close to call handball.
Liverpool are looking the more dangerous team in the first quarter of an hour, already forcing some last ditch defending from the Blues, including Kepa being forced into action to deny Salah after he was put through on goal.
Chelsea have started playing their way into the match, forcing the Reds into a few last-ditch tackles of their own. Andy Robertson was alive to the danger when Pedro was nearly played through, and Joel Matip gave American wunderkind Christian Pulisic a nice welcoming gift to European football. A moment later Pedro rattled the crossbar from a tight angle. Later in the half, Adrian does his best Alisson impression, coming quick off his line to deny Chelsea a gilt-edged chances. Looks like we have a game on our hands (unfortunately).
Liverpool work consecutive free headers for themselves off corners, but Virgil van Dijk cannot turn the first on target, and Mane cannot beat Kepa with the second.
Goal. Chelsea found a way through, and for the last several minutes it felt coming. Pulisic played a smart diagonal through ball for Giroud to latch onto, and he finished the chance well, slotting it low past Adrian.
Moments later it almost goes from bad to worse, when it appeared as if Pulisic scored after a slaloming run. However, he was well offside when the ball came to him, a fact which VAR confirmed a moment later. Regardless, his runs are causing us problems.
It’s a relief when the whistle blows for halftime. Liverpool’s nearly impenetrable defense from last year appears to be anything but this year. Chelsea is having an easy go of things once they break the first line of defense. Moreover, the Gomez and rightback and Ox on left wing experiments appear to be failing. TAA and Bobby, por favor.
Roberto Firmino comes on for Ox, thank Fowler. Nothing against you Oxfamchamblood, but we need Bobby. Now give him the ball, he will score.
GOAL! It wasn’t Bobby, but he was directly involved! Fabinho chipped a ball over the backline, and Firmino just got a foot on it to poke it out of Kepa’s grasp, and into the path of Mane. Mane’s initial effort is saved, but he follows it in for a tap in equalizer. GAME ON!
Liverpool came out on fire to start the second half, and Firmino is leading the charge. However, things have really cooled off since that intense opening ten minutes of the half, with neither team creating much going forward. The good news is that Liverpool’s defense appears much more solid, and the offside trap has caught Chelsea out several times this half.
Jurgen Klopp makes his second sub of the night, bringing on Georginio Wijnaldum for James Milner.
CLOSE! The Reds are denied not once, but twice on a corner, first from a low Mo Salah shot, and then again from Van Dijk, which Kepa manages to tip onto the underside of the bar and out. Un. Lucky.
Once again, Chelsea put it in the back of the net, and once again they’re well offside. For those keeping score at home, it’s they’re eighth offside infraction of the evening. As the half draws to the close, both sides manage to create a half chance from a set play, but things remain knotted at ones, and we’re headed to extra time.
While this is a trophy I’d very much like to win, we can all agree that extra time is dumb here, right? That said, if we must play an extra thirty minutes, it would be nice to win it outright and not on pens. Please and thank you. Klopp brings TAA on for Robbo, who admittedly has looked off it. Gomez goes to leftback, with Trent on the right.
GOAL!! And once again, it’s Bobby setting up Mane. Sadio starts the move, driving at the defense and then playing Bobby through with a perfectly timed pass. Bobby drives to the byline, and plays it back for Sadio, who finishes first time with a right-footed finish past Kepa.
Penalty. Moments later, Adrian appears to make the slightest of contact on Abraham, and the penalty is given, as confirmed by VAR.
Goal. Jorginho sends Adrian the wrong way, and we’re level again. Fuck.
Klopp makes his last roll of the dice, bringing on Divock Origi for goalscorer Sadio Mane. Do what you do, Origi (score another big goal).
As the last ten minutes of extra time drag on, both sides are gassed. If either side finds a winner, it’ll likely be more down to error than brilliant football. With about a minute to play Fabinho goes down with a cramp. And like that, without another ball being kicked after the knock, the whistle is blown, and we’re on to penalties. Liverpool win the toss, so that’s at least something.
- Firmino O - Jorginho O
- Fabinho O - Barkley O
- Origi O - Mounds O
- Alexander-Arnold O - Emerson O
- Salah O - Abraham X
It looked like Adrian cost us with giving up that penalty, but the Alisson stand-in ends up being the hero, saving the only pen that mattered—the last one. It wasn’t pretty, but it counts all the same. Liverpool are bringing home their fourth UEFA Super Cup, equaling Real Madrid’s tally.