A dispirited Frank Lampard insisted he has “nothing but pride” for his players after suffering a cruel defeat on penalties against Liverpool in the Uefa Super Cup.
Chelsea put in a vastly improved performance after their second-half humbling at Old Trafford last weekend, however, they were ultimately denied when Tammy Abraham’s spot-kick was saved by unlikely hero Adrian.
With both Olivier Giroud and £58m signing Christian Pulisic impressing up front, Chelsea took the lead in the first-half after the pair combined on the counter-attack. However, Liverpool responded just three minutes after the break courtesy of a brilliant finish from Sadio Mane.
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After a frenetic end to the 90 minutes, the tie went to extra-time with Mane’s second seemingly putting Jurgen Klopp’s side out of reach before the controversial decision to award a penalty, after Adrian made the slightest contact with Tammy Abraham in the box with the ball already out of play.
Despite players splayed across the turf nursing cramp and injuries as the match ended 2-2, the shootout saw a streak of perfect penalties until Abraham’s tame effort was kneed away by the Spanish goalkeeper, filling in for the injured Alisson.
“I’ve got nothing but pride in the team and the performance, and confidence in what that means,” Lampard said afterwards.
“It was a tough game against a good Liverpool team that had extra time to recover after the weekend. But sometimes football comes down to little moments of luck.
“Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham added an extra dimension when they came on and were unlucky not to score. Tammy needs to keep his head up because that’s part and parcel of being a top player.”
Much has been made of Lampard’s preference to bring through a younger generation of players, however, it was the older guard who shined in Istanbul, with N’golo Kante starring in midfield after overcoming a nagging injury.
“People keep talking about the young players at Chelsea,” Lampard continued. ”Let’s talk about Jorginho and Kante, and I could name a few others. We’ve got a quality bunch in there, a really good group, and we’re working hard. I’m trying to instil the way I want to play and there were so many good things tonight.
“After Sunday, tonight was another level, and we were unlucky not to win. We’ve got three games now till the international break and we’ll try to win them all.”