Klopp Hails Adrian's 'Sensational Saves'

Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian is the toast of his teammates after his save sealed a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win over Chelsea in the Uefa Super Cup match. It ended 2-2 in extra time on Wednesday.
Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian is the toast of his teammates after his save sealed a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win over Chelsea in the Uefa Super Cup match. It ended 2-2 in extra time on Wednesday. PHOTO: DPA
Left: Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian is the toast of his teammates after his save sealed a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win over Chelsea in the Uefa Super Cup match. It ended 2-2 in extra time on Wednesday. PHOTO: DPA Below: Adrian, who spent the bulk of last
Adrian, who spent the bulk of last season on West Ham's bench, made the difference in Istanbul when he blocked Tammy Abraham's penalty. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Spaniard, signed as a backup, proves mettle in Liverpool's Super Cup win over Chelsea

ISTANBUL • Spanish goalkeeper Adrian was without a club just two weeks ago, one of the many free agents looking for work.

But on Wednesday, he went from zero to hero, saving Tammy Abraham's final penalty in Liverpool's Uefa Super Cup 5-4 shoot-out victory over Chelsea in Istanbul.

The former West Ham man was so low key in the transfer market that Jurgen Klopp, manager of the European champions, admitted: "I don't know where Adrian was two weeks ago when we played Man City (in the Community Shield).

"When I spoke to him for the first time (after he signed), it was clear he would need time to get fit. But we didn't have that time so he has to be fit now, and he was fit.

"I don't even know when he last played for West Ham, to be honest. But he played an incredible game, he made sensational saves."

Adrian was released by the Hammers at the end of last season and stayed fit by training with a semi-pro club in Spain. His lifeline came the day after the Shield, when he was signed to be a backup to first-choice Alisson Becker after the departure of Belgian Simon Mignolet.

A season of warming the bench, with perhaps some Cup appearances, awaited. But in the Reds' 4-1 win over Norwich in their Premier League opener last Friday, Alisson suffered a calf injury and Adrian was thrust into action at Anfield.

The 32-year-old was then forced to start on Wednesday and blocked Abraham's kick with his legs after the game had ended 1-1 in normal time and 2-2 in extra time.

  • 19 

  • ​Sadio Mane has scored 19 goals this year for Liverpool. Only Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero (20) has scored more in all competitions for a Premier League side.

He also made notable interventions during the game, diving at the feet of Mateo Kovacic in the first half and batting away a Mason Mount strike late in extra time, as Chelsea put up a strong fight following a 4-0 Premier League thumping by Manchester United last Sunday.

The Blues took the lead through Olivier Giroud but Sadio Mane's equaliser sent the match into extra time. The Senegal star then put Liverpool in front in the 95th minute, only for a Jorginho penalty six minutes later to restore parity.

Despite the narrow loss, manager Frank Lampard was encouraged by his men's display.

He was able to start N'Golo Kante and the £58 million (S$97.5 million) January signing Christian Pulisic for the first time, giving the Europa League winners added solidity and bite in attack.

They were a match for the Reds for long spells. Pedro hit the woodwork in the first half and, twice, an offside flag denied them adding to their tally.

The more experienced Giroud, who started in place of 21-year-old Abraham, was a difficult opponent for defenders Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk.

Former United and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had implied after the United defeat that the Blues were disjointed. With Kante shaking off a fitness concern to start, the Frenchman's drive made a difference in the middle of the park.

The number of chances they created against the team with the best defensive record in the English top flight last term was also another reason for optimism, as was the speed their new manager and his players learnt from the punishing lessons of their opening loss.

Said Lampard: "We can get better, there are things I still want us to improve on, but I am really happy with the performance.

"To lose the game was disappointing. But what I saw today were things that I want in the team.

"After Sunday, tonight was another level, and we were unlucky not to win."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2019, with the headline 'Klopp Hails Adrian's 'Sensational Saves''. Print Edition | Subscribe