Chelsea youngsters learn harsh lesson as Adrian the UEFA Super Cup hero for Liverpool | Football | Sport


Tammy Abraham and his Chelsea manager Frank Lampard were forced to learn the hard way just how difficult it can be when you have to put your faith in the kids.

Liverpool these days are very much the finished article.

Stood on the podium with the Super Cup, Liverpool looked like increasingly familiar champions – figures such as Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah very much the finished article with ‘winner’ written all the way through them.

They did not play particularly well but kept Chelsea’s half-time lead to Olivier Giroud’s opener.

Sadio Mane caught their opponents napping early in the second half as he would do again at the start of extra time.

Even then, Abraham had the drive and determination to draw a soft but unarguable penalty from Adrian so that Jorginho could roll the ball into the corner to take the match to a shoot-out.

It was then when it came to Abraham’s turn for the penalty-taking honours that the problems started.

Two hours of football and eight previous spot-kicks could not separate the two sides. Liverpool had Salah to put away their fifth kick. Now it was Abraham’s turn.

The striker waited until Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian finally retreated to his line, scuffed an unconvincing shot along the ground toward the middle of the goal and watched helplessly as it was booted away to safety to spark yet more Merseyside celebrations in Istanbul.

For all the misplaced bravery in endorsing a 21-year-old to take such a big, big spot-kick, it is a situation which Lampard is hoping Abraham will grow from.

He had vowed on the eve of the game that he still believed in his young players, so it was something of a surprise that both Mason Mount and Abraham had been dropped to the bench after Sunday’s 4-0 drubbing at Manchester United.

But he was simply giving them a chance to draw breath before giving youth its head once more.

By starting with Giroud, he had a striker with the experience necessary to meet Christian Pulisic’s pass and slide the ball under Adrian to give Chelsea a deserved lead.

N’Golo Kante, thriving in the position further up and the field and wider that Maurizio Sarri had been pilloried for trying him, was pulling the strings and Pedro had already smashed the ball against the crossbar.

So when Pulisic put the ball in the net a second time moments later, if it had not been ruled out for offside, it might have been a very different story.

Liverpool had had chances and when a superb overhead kick from Sadio Mane in only the seventh minute was blocked by the elbow of Andreas Christensen with not penalty this time.

Kepa Arrizabalaga soon afterwards made a great save to deny Salah but there was little else to show from a poor Liverpool first half.

Just three minutes into the second period, though, substitute Roberto Firmino reacted to first to Fabinho’s simple up-and-under, the ball ran to Mane and he forced it home.

Then Kepa made a superb double save, first from Salah and then pushing Virgil Van Dijk’s follow-up brilliantly onto the bar.

But that flush of youth changed things Chelsea’s way again. Mount and Abraham  and instantly took the game by the scruff of the neck as the London club finished the game the stronger.

The former thought he had snatched a winner but VAR upheld the assistant’s very late offside call and it was into extra time.

Then out of nowhere, Firmino’s cut-back for Mane to hammer the ball into the net for his second put Liverpool in front for the first time five minutes into extra time.

Mount and Abraham led the late charge that got Chelsea to the shootout but in the end having the experience to claim that win seemed a lot further than 12 yards away.


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