Christian Pulisic plays well but Liverpool beats Chelsea in UEFA Super Cup

Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian saved Tammy Abraham’s tame effort to give the Reds a 5-4 victory over Chelsea on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw in the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul.

Here are three quick thoughts on the match:

Impressive rebound by Chelsea

After losing 4-0 at Manchester United on Sunday, the largest opening defeat in Chelsea’s Premier League history, fans might have worried about another mauling in this meeting with the Champions League holders.

Instead, Chelsea was every bit the equal of the Reds. First-year manager (and club legend) Frank Lampard saved his most powerful starting XI for Wednesday, with Olivier Giroud, Christian Pulisic and N’Golo Kante coming in for Abraham, Ross Barkley and Mason Mount. With a trophy on the line, why not?

The added experience was apparent from the opening whistle. And although Liverpool had the momentum early in the second half, Chelsea almost claimed the hardware in regulation and looked like the better team for long stretches.

Pulisic makes the most of his opportunity

Pulisic’s second match with Chelsea went a lot better than his first. Three days after starting on the Blues’ bench, the 20-year-old American was one of three new players in Frank Lampard’s lineup for the Super Cup, the annual match between the reigning Champions League and Europa League winners.

Pulisic made the most of the opportunity, setting up Giroud’s first half goal:

By that point, the Blues had been all over Liverpool from the opening whistle. Giroud and attacking midfielders Pulisic and Pedro had threatened the Reds’ back line, and Pulisic looked to have doubled his team’s lead shortly before the break.

But an all-world finish from the former Borussia Dortmund prodigy was (correctly) cancelled out because he was just offside:

Pulisic was also lively at the start of the second half, his goal-bound volley deflected out for a corner kick before the youngster was replaced by Mount after 73 minutes.

The showing should be enough for Pulisic to keep his name on Lampard’s team sheet. And if not, it’s not necessarily a knock on the Pennsylvania native, as Lampard continues to ease him into the hardscrabble English game.

“I don’t want to stick Christian straight into the fire,” Lampard said after the United loss, “without helping him along the way.”

For one day, Liverpool looked far from convincing

Jurgen Klopp made four changes to the lineup that beat Norwich City last week, a decision that sent forward Bobby Firmino to the bench.

Klopp and Co. came out flying in their Prem opener, toying with Norwich and running out to a 4-0 first half lead before losing interest. The European champions’ performance was seen as a statement of intent after they missed out on their first English title in three decades by just two points last season.

This match, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. Forget the result. The Reds were second-best most of the night. Some of that can perhaps be chalked up to squad rotation; Liverpool looked better after Firmino came on to start the second half.

Right after his introduction, Firmino set up Sadio Mane (who had replaced him in Klopp’s lineup) with an unselfish pass that gave Blues keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga no chance:

Firmino set up Mane again in extra time, a goal that looked like it might stand as the winner:

But Chelsea drew level on a controversial penalty that Jorginho converted to send the match to penalty kicks.

Each team made their first four, and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah coolly converted his team’s fifth to start the final round.

Abraham stepped up to the spot, but his attempt right down the middle was saved by Adrian’s outstretched leg, and the Reds raised the trophy:

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