15 de Agosto de 2019

Blues suffer Super Cup shoot-out heartache (2/5-2/4)

As in Prague six years ago, an enthralling 2-2 draw was followed by a penalty shoot-out defeat that means there are not Chelsea hands on the Super Cup tonight.

Tammy Abraham’s decisive spot-kick was saved, but it was the young striker who had helped us equalise in extra-time when he was brought down by Adrian for a penalty Jorginho rolled in.

Sadio Mane had scored early in the second half and then the first period of the additional 30 minutes, turning around a lead given to us by Olivier Giroud before the break.

An engrossing two hours of football hadn’t been able to separate last season’s European winners prior to penalties. Chelsea were excellent from the off and deservedly went ahead on 36 minutes when Giroud calmly converted a clever pass from Christian Pulisic, was making his full debut.

The American had a fine goal of his own disallowed for offside, and the Reds then levelled straight after half-time when Mane scrambled in from a yard out.

Before extra-time, Kepa produced a quite remarkable double save - the second stop somehow thwarting Virgil van Dijk – and Mason Mount scored only to see the flag raised.

Mane gave Liverpool the lead but Jorginho quickly made no mistake from 12 yards as the contest continued to swing from end to end before penalties decided it in the Merseysiders' favour.

But make no mistake: this was a hugely impressive Chelsea performance that suggests Frank Lampard and his charges are firmly on the right path. Indeed, it could so easily have been the Blues returning from the Turkish capital with silverware.

The boss made three changes from Sunday, bringing Pulisic and Giroud into the team and selecting the fit-again N’Golo Kante. The shape shifted to a 4-3-3, with Jorginho nominally at the base of the midfield. Willian and Toni Rudiger were subs.

Jurgen Klopp left Trent Alexander-Arnold, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino on the bench. Referee Stephanie Frappart became the first female to officiate a major European men’s match. She was in charge of Chelsea Women’s win over Fiorentina last November.

Pulisic nearly had a clear sight of goal inside three minute, benefitting from good work from Giroud, but Joel Matip was across to cover. The Liverpool defender then had an impact down the other end, heading straight at Kepa after Andreas Christensen blocked a Mane bicycle-kick.

Kante was immediately in the thick of things, winning the ball back and driving us forward. There was no sign he was anything but fully fit, producing a midfield masterclass all night from the position he was deployed in last term.
Tonight the tempo was set high. It barely relented. Kurt Zouma stretched to stop a Mohamed Salah shot threaten Kepa, and we immediately broke with Pedro curling wide from 20 yards.

On the quarter-hour mark, Salah got away dangerously down the right, but Kepa stood his ground and reacted low to save one handed.

Back Chelsea came. Jorginho, from near our penalty spot, picked out Pedro. He plucked the pass out of the Istanbul sky and fed Giroud in space, who angled his effort beyond the far post.

A Pedro cross than had Adrian anxious on the stretch, and our Super Cup specialist became the latest Blue to be kept out by the woodwork midway through the first half. Giroud, a tour de force up front, managed to slip a pass back to the Spaniard from the edge of the box. He drifted into a similar position from where Emerson hit the bar on Sunday and was equally misfortunate, beating Adrian but not the frame of the goal.

Giroud bicycle-kicked wide and Pulisic probably hoped a team-mate would gamble on his low centre between keeper and defence.

We had a couple of escapes from corners around the half-hour. Van Dijk nodded over with Kepa beaten, and then Mane, completely unmarked, had the pace taken off his header by Matip.

Chelsea’s response was impressive. Kante had the stadium wooing with some incredible skill, and then Pedro so nearly released Mateo Kovacic who was denied a maiden Chelsea strike by an outstretched Adrian arm nipping the ball off his toes.

However, we did net a deserved opening goal on 36 minutes. Again Kante was central, winning the ball back and finding Pulisic. His and Giroud’s movement confused the Liverpool defence, and the American’s pass was inch-perfect, diagonal and weighted to allow the striker to finish first time past Adrian.

The Chelsea fans in one corner might have been outnumbered but they were certainly making all the noise now!
They thought they were celebrating a second shortly after, but the offside flag ruled out what would have been a superb maiden Chelsea goal for Pulisic. He drifted inside a couple of red shirts and cleverly cut his shot back from whence he came. It was Hazard-esque.

Our lead wouldn’t last more than two minutes into the second half. Roberto Firmino, brought on at the break, reacted quickest to a Fabinho delivery and just managed to nudge across to Mane who bundled in from a yard out.

Liverpool seized the momentum and nearly went ahead when a Henderson shot took a hefty deflection. Thankfully Kepa was alert and got upright to gather.

Suddenly the European champions’ movement and passing was more fluid. This was a serious test of Lampard’s side after what had happened at Old Trafford, and the fact we were able to stem the tide and rediscover our initiative was testament to the boys in blue.

Giroud was continually frustrated to see the offside flag raised against him as we sought to exploit space behind Liverpool. He was replaced by Abraham with 20 minutes to go. Pulisic made way for Mount at the same time, and both outgoing players had certainly made an impression tonight.

A low Liverpool corner restarted play - somehow they didn’t score from it. Kepa kept out first Salah and then, remarkably, Van Dijk, springing up from the ground to parry what looked a certain goal onto a combination of the post and bar, and behind. This time the woodwork was on our side!

Pedro had a shot blocked after more good work from Kante, and then Mount drilled a superb finish into the bottom corner only for that offside flag to raised again. Just like Pulisic earlier, there wasn’t much in it…

Fikayo Tomori replaced Andreas Christensen, making his first Chelsea appearance since 2016 in the process.
In the final minute of normal time Zouma crashed a header over from Mount’s corner, and then with the last kick Salah’s powerful cross flashed across the six-yard box to safety. So 1-1 after 90 and, just as in the 2013 Super Cup, an additional half-hour would be required to try and separate the sides.

Unlike then it was our opponents who went ahead. Mane found Firmino in space and the Senegalese latched onto the return pass, crashing a fine finish in off the bar. That wasn’t the end of the drama. Far from it!

Abraham sprinted onto Jorginho’s slide-rule pass and held off Van Dijk before hitting Adrian with his poked effort. He didn’t let the chance affect him, immediately alert to a Pedro pass that landed in a corridor of uncertainty, reaching it just before Adrian who felled him. Penalty, ratified by VAR. Jorginho stepped up, shuffled and sat Adrian down before slipping it to the other side. 2-2!

Ross Barkley for Kovacic was our fourth and final sub, and he was involved in the move that so nearly put us back in front. Pedro collected the pass, cleverly keeping it in play and beating his man on the byline, before squaring to Abraham who shot agonisingly wide from the near-post area.

As legs understandably weakened, the pace finally relented. But my how the Blues kept plugging away despite having had less time to prepare than their opponents! With seven minutes left, Abraham teed up Mount only for Adrian to save the powerful effort with his right palm. Then Pedro curled a whisker wide from 20 yards!
Mount had Adrian concerned once more before the final whistle but he shovelled to safety. So to penalties it went.
The first nine were scored, Kepa getting decent contact to two of Liverpool’s in succession, before Abraham’s low strike was kept out by Adrian’s legs. It wasn’t quite our night.

 

- Match stats:

Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta (c), Zouma, Christensen (Tomori 84), Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic (Barkley 101); Pedro, Giroud (Abraham 73), Pulisic (Mount 73).

Scorers Giroud 36, Jorginho (pen) 99

Booked Azpilicueta 79

Liverpool (4-3-3): Adrian; Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson (Alexander-Arnold e/t); Milner (Wijnaldum 64), Fabinho, Henderson (c); Salah, Mane (Origi 103), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Firmino h/t).

Scorer Mane 48, 95
Booked Henderson 85, Alexander-Arnold 107

Penalties: Firmino scored (1-0), Jorginho scored (1-1), Fabinho scored (2-1), Barkley scored (2-2), Origi scored (3-2), Mount scored (3-3), Alexander-Arnold scored (4-3), Emerson (4-4), Salah (5-4), Abraham saved (5-4)

Referee Stephanie Frappart from France

- Match report by chelseafc.com


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