UEFA Super Cup: Liverpool 2(5)-2(4) Chelsea - 3 key battles that decided the game
Glorified season friendly? It certainly didn't feel so from the way the teams fought tooth and nails for more than 2 hours to get their hands on the trophy. It certainly did not feel that way from the teams put up by their respective managers, both operating at full power.
In the end, it was Liverpool who turned out to be the successful side, a win on penalties as Adrian produced a save off Tammy Abraham to turn hero for his new team. Olivier Giroud and Jorginho had previously scored on either side of Sadio Mane's brace, taking the game beyond Extra time, and into a decision based on spot-kicks.
As always, several individual battles ultimately decided the course of the tie. Here's a look at three of them:
#1 Christian Pulisic vs Joe Gomez
It was one of the changes made by Frank Lampard to the Chelsea side after the debacle at Old Trafford, and arguably the one that made the difference between the Chelsea of Sunday and the one that showed up today at Istanbul - arguably, because N'golo Kante's start was equally impactful to the side.
Starting the American on the left, with Giroud and Pedro as the other attackers, this was the Blues at one of their most fluent attacking combinations, helped in equal parts by the tactics and the personnel. As was evident from his Derby days, Lampard's attacks involve a lot of quick one-twos between the attackers and slicing in through the middle rather than from the full-backs' crosses like the Chelsea of yesteryears.
For a tactic like that, Pulisic is an excellent fit and it was with a beautiful ball that he found Giroud to put his team in front. He would have even had a goal to his name, if not being adjudged offside - and rightly so. Yay, VAR!
Starting on the right, a young Joe Gomez did not have the best of games, and it did not help that Matip playing the centre back closest to him did not have the shrewdest of games, giving away too many balls in midfield. Also, Pulisic's pace was often a deterrent for Liverpool, and with the fear of getting caught on the counters, both Gomez and Robertson preferred staying back and not join in the offence as much as they would have liked.