After a humid affair in the BJK Vodafone Park in Istanbul, Liverpool came out on top to beat Frank Lampard’s Chelsea and win the UEFA Super Cup. The victory came after goalkeeper Adrián managed to keep out the last spot-kick to win the penalty shootout 5-4, following the 2-2 stalemate at the end of extra-time.
— Enganche (@srijandeep) August 14, 2019
Istanbul saw goalkeeping highs and positional lows from both the outfits, as it served up a match filled with action. But, in a match that was thronged with bold penalty calls, a midfield muddle of the reigning Champions League winners, Chelsea’s buoyant approach to the game, and Liverpool’s Rocky moment, what Stéphanie Frappart, Manuela Nicolosi and Michelle O’Neill achieved on Wednesday night was incomparable.
Becoming the first female referee to officiate in one of the highest-profile men’s games, Stéphanie Frappart handled everything from the objections of players to the physical test of extra time commendably. With Manuela Nicolosi and Michelle O’Neill, she led the first all-female in-field officiating team in a major UEFA men’s match, where both their poise and knowledge of the game was lauded by all.
Frappart had the match in her control in the opening ten minutes itself, as she made the crucial call to not give Liverpool a penalty in the sixth minute after Sadio Mané’s scissor-kick had hit Andreas Christensen’s arm. The 35-year-old French official soaked in the pressure of the Super Cup and the modifications of Video Assistant Referee (VAR), which disallowed two Chelsea goals for being offsides.
Even before officiating the 2019 Women’s World Cup final between the United States and the Netherlands in June, Frappart became the first woman to referee a French top-flight men’s game when she oversaw the proceedings between Amiens and Strasbourg in April.
After the game, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was full of praise for the all-woman team and told ESPN, “I said to the refereeing team that if we played like they whistled, we would have won 6-0. They were really good. There was pressure on them like hell — a historic moment. I couldn’t have more respect.”
Unemployed two weeks ago, Adrián had joined Liverpool on a free transfer on August 5 to play second-fiddle to Brazilian Alisson Becker. Ten days after his arrival from training with a Spanish sixth-division side, UD Pilas, he made his first start with the club and managed to win his first-ever professional trophy at the age of 32, thanks to an outstretched right leg that kept Tammy Abraham’s penalty at bay.
Adrián deputised for the injured Alisson who is still weeks away from fitness due to a calf-injury sustained against Norwich City in the opening gameweek of Premier League. After conceding a penalty in extra time after tripping Abraham, Chelsea’s 21-year-old English forward, the goalkeeper’s redemption came during a decisive penalty shootout save against the same striker. The save even made Klopp mimic Sylvester Stallone from the 1976 film, Rocky‘s iconic ending scene.
— Kop Magazine (@TheKopMagazine) August 14, 2019
After being released by West Ham United without playing a single Premier League match last season to now a winner of a European trophy, Adrián also acknowledged his whirlwind of a journey.
“Welcome to Liverpool!” he told BT Sport. “It was a crazy week but with (my teammates) it’s so easy playing at the back. I’m really happy for the team to get the trophy. I’m really happy to play for Liverpool and really happy for the fans.”
LIVERPOOL SUFFERED THE BLUES
Starting the game with a rarely tried 4-4-2 with James Milner and the returning Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain down the wings, and the African forwards in front of them, Klopp had introduced some anarchy into the team. But as the Liverpool back four played a high line, Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1 formation exploited their positional faults through their imposing midfield of Jorginho, Mateo Kovačić and an extremely dynamic N’Golo Kanté.
The Frenchman led the charge for Lampard, and combining with the 20-year-old Christian Pulisic, Kanté wreaked havoc on the confused midfield of Liverpool for the entirety of first half. It was with Roberto Firmino’s inclusion that Liverpool regained control of the game, returning to Klopp’s tested 4-3-3 formation. The Brazilian channelised the German’s tactics, and assisted Sadio Mané’s equaliser just three minutes after coming off the bench, before also providing the crucial left-footed pass to the Senegalese for the second goal in extra-time.
Both Klopp and Lampard had enough lessons from the game to take back home apart from the silverware and heartbreak. While Liverpool’s eccentric German would have a note or two to make about his team’s positional awareness in midfield, Chelsea’s club legend would look to take the positives from the game, and stay focused on the hunt for his first competitive win as the London-side’s manager.