Liverpool beats Chelsea on penalties to lift Super Cup

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Liverpool's Adrian lifts the trophy as he and his teammates celebrate winning the UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea at the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul, Turkey on August 14, 2019. (Reuters/John Sibley)
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Liverpool's Adrian saves the decisive penalty in the penalty shootout taken by Chelsea's Tammy Abraham.(Reuters/John Sibley)
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Chelsea's English striker Tammy Abraham (C) vies for the ball with Liverpool's Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk (L) and Liverpool's Spanish goalkeeper Adrian during the UEFA Super Cup 2019 football match between FC Liverpool and FC Chelsea at Besiktas Park Stadium in Istanbul on August 14, 2019. (AFP / Bulent Kilic)
Updated 15 August 2019
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Liverpool beats Chelsea on penalties to lift Super Cup

  • Backup goalkeeper Adrian saves final kick of shootout to help Liverpool win Super Cup

ISTANBUL: Adrian may never play more than a smattering of games for Liverpool, but he’ll be remembered for his “crazy week.”
The backup goalkeeper turned penalty hero with a save on the final kick of the shootout as Liverpool beat Chelsea to win the Super Cup and kick off a new European season.
After Champions League holder Liverpool and Europa League winner Chelsea finished extra time at 2-2, Adrian made the crucial save with his leg to deny Tammy Abraham and give his team a 5-4 win on penalties in a game which finished after midnight Turkish time on Thursday.
Adrian was signed just nine days before as backup for Alisson, but when the Brazilian injured himself last Friday in the English Premier League opener, he was thrust into the spotlight first as a substitute, then as a Super Cup starter.
“Welcome to Liverpool,” Adrian said. “It’s been a crazy week. I’m really happy for the team, I’m happy to play for Liverpool and happy for the fans.”
The 32-year-old Spanish goalkeeper was a free agent after leaving West Ham, where he didn’t play a single Premier League game last season and last appeared in an FA Cup loss to lowly AFC Wimbledon.
Even before the shootout, Adrian kept Liverpool in the game with a 113th-minute save from Mason Mount to stop Chelsea winning in extra time. Still, he’s expected to relinquish his Liverpool starting spot to Alisson when the Brazilian returns from his calf injury in a few weeks.
Chelsea took the lead in the 36th minute when Christian Pulisic exposed poor positioning by Liverpool right back Joe Gomez to pass for Olivier Giroud to shoot low past Adrian.
Liverpool stormed back after the break, Fabinho’s 48th-minute pass opening up the Chelsea defense and leaving Sadio Mane with an easy finish off Mohamed Salah’s flick.
In extra time, Mane put Liverpool ahead off a Roberto Firmino cross, but Chelsea quickly responded with a penalty from Jorginho.
Stéphanie Frappart became the first female referee to oversee a major men’s European final.
After just six minutes, she denied Liverpool a penalty when Sadio Mane’s overhead kick hit Andreas Christensen’s arm, which seemed to be out of a strictly “natural” position. There was no full review by the video assistant referee system.
Twice Chelsea put the ball into the net through Pulisic and substitute Mount, but Frappart and her assistants ruled both efforts out for clear offsides.
Just as in its 4-0 loss to Manchester United on Sunday, Chelsea played a strong first half before slumping after halftime, but this time its mistakes weren’t nearly as harshly punished.
Frank Lampard’s team tormented Gomez in the opening 45 minutes, drawing him out of position and exploiting the space created. After an early chance for Salah, it was all Chelsea as Pedro hit the bar and Giroud shot at Adrian. Soon after, Pulisic and Giroud combined for the opening goal.
Chelsea emerged after halftime looking disjointed and almost immediately conceded.
After Mane scored, Liverpool nearly followed up with a second as Fabinho fired just wide, then Jordan Henderson forced a save from Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The Chelsea goalkeeper made a spectacular double save to keep Liverpool at bay in the 75th, diverting Virgil van Dijk’s shot onto the bar after substitute Abraham cleared Fabinho’s shot off the line with his first touch of the game.
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Djokovic not worried about blisters ahead of US Open

Updated 25 August 2019
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Djokovic not worried about blisters ahead of US Open

  • When the year's last Grand Slam tournament begins Monday, Djokovic will be in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the afternoon session, facing Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain

NEW YORK: During a break in practice two days before opening his US Open title defense, Novak Djokovic pulled off his blue shoe and white sock so a trainer could look at his right foot.

Did it again a little while later.

And then, toward the end of Saturday’s training session in Louis Armstrong Stadium with 2014 runner-up Kei Nishikori, Djokovic stopped a sprint and pulled up short of a ball, raised his right leg off the ground entirely and hopped repeatedly on his left, wincing. Nothing to worry about, Djokovic said later at his pre-tournament news conference: Just blisters.

“A minor thing,” Djokovic called it. “Like anybody has ... Nothing major that is causing a concern for the event.”

When the year's last Grand Slam tournament begins Monday, Djokovic will be in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the afternoon session, facing Roberto Carballes Baena, a 26-year-old from Spain whose career-best ranking was 72nd.

Carballes Baena has an overall career record of 43-50. That includes 2-7 at major tournaments, 1-1 at Flushing Meadows, where he made his debut a year ago and lost in the second round.

Djokovic, meanwhile, has won 33 of his past 34 Grand Slam matches en route to collecting four of the past five major titles. That allowed the 32-year-old Serb to raise his career haul to 16 trophies, putting him just two away from second-place Rafael Nadal’s total of 18, and Roger Federer’s 20, which is the record for men.

He’s not shy about trying to catch those guys.

“More or less everything is about Grand Slams, in terms of how I see tennis and how I approach it, because they matter the most,” Djokovic said. “So I will definitely try to play my best tennis — and aim to play my best tennis — at these events.”

And while many would attribute Djokovic's success to his ability to return serves, say, or his mental strength and propensity for coming up big in the biggest moments — such as saving two match points along the way to edging Federer in a fifth-set tiebreaker in the Wimbledon final last month — there's something else the man himself would point to as his most vital quality.

That's the way Djokovic can cover a court, which is why the state of that right foot is actually a rather big deal.

His movement, Djokovic said Saturday, is "the base of everything" and "the most important thing."

"It just allows you to be more in balance. And at the end of the day, that is what you're looking for as a tennis player," he explained. "How can you hit the ball, being in the right balance, so you can penetrate the ball with the right speed, accuracy and precision?"

Watch Djokovic during a match, and you'll see him change direction in a heartbeat, twist and turn, contort his limbs, slide — on clay, on grass, even on hard courts — always getting to the right spot at the right time.

He attributes his strength in that area to the flexibility of his ankles and is grateful he used to participate in another sport while growing up back home in Serbia.

"I credit my childhood spent on the skis. I used to spend a lot of time skiing," Djokovic said. "That had an effect as well, with kind of coordination and changing movement from one side to another. Even though they're different sports, in essence, you're using some major muscle groups and joints and stuff like this in most of the sports."

It is Djokovic's right elbow that gave him the most trouble a couple of seasons ago.

He missed the last half of 2017, including that year's US Open because that arm was bothering him, then wound up having surgery in February 2018. It took some time for Djokovic to get going after that. All's good these days, though.

"Novak had a couple years where he didn't seem like the same guy," ESPN's John McEnroe said. "Now he's back with a vengeance."

Only 1½ months have passed since Djokovic edged Federer in that classic title match at the All England Club.

Not a lot of time to savor the victory. Not a lot of time to rest a weary body.

"This sport can be a little bit 'cruel,'" Djokovic said, using fingers to indicate air quotes, "when it comes to, I guess, marveling or celebrating your own success. You don't have that much luxury of time to really reflect on everything because the season keeps going."