Arsenal lift Community Shield; win on penalty shootouts
Community Shield Result: Arsenal 1, Liverpool 1 – Wembley stadium – 29 August 2020
Arsenal win 5-4 on penalties
With goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Takumi Minamino leaving the game level after 93 minutes of play, the Community Shield fixture between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Wembley went into penalties.
Twenty-year old Rhian Brewster, sent in by Jurgen Klopp for Georginio Wijnaldum in the 92nd minute, was the only player to miss a penalty from the five efforts each team made, his shot hitting the crossbar and allowing Arsenal to emerge 5-4 winners from the shoot-out.
Arsenal who had won the Community Shield in each of the last three times they featured, seemed to have gone down by a goal early in the game when Virgil Van Dijk guided the ball in from a Andy Robertson cross with only seven minutes of play gone.
But replays showed that the Dutch defender was well ahead of the rival backline when Anderson had delivered the cross and the goal was ruled out for offside.
Despite the Reds having dominated almost two-thirds of the ball possession in the opening minutes it was Arsenal who struck first.
A Bukayo Saka pass found Aubameyang in a driving run down the left with the ace Gabonese striker finding enough space to curl one in past the hapless Alisson into the far bottom corner of the net in the 12th minute.
Eddie Nketiah seemed to have doubled the lead 8 minutes later for the Gunners, but his well-directed shot was saved by some superb goalkeeping from Alisson.
Liverpool came back into the game and started dominating proceedings till the end of the first-half but their efforts were not on target and hardly troubled goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
Roberto Firmino had a chance to level terms just 6 minutes into the second-half but saw his effort fall right and wide. Sadio Mane had an opportunity minutes later when he pulled ahead of Rob Holding and forced Martinez out of his goal, but the Spaniard saw the ball quickly and snuffed out one more chance for Jurgen Klopp's men.
Liverpool's tenacity was rewarded when a flicked pass by Takumi Minamino to Mohamed Salah bounced back kindly for the Japanese who coolly slotted the ball in to bring parity in the 73rd minute.
There was a VAR check for handball by Salah but the replay showed no clear contact and the goal stayed. Mikel Arteta's men had a final brilliant chance to make it 2-1 with five minutes to go when Joe Wilcox miscued his header following Cedric Soares' cross from the right.
Despite the Gunners visibly tiring towards the end, neither side could find a goal and in keeping with the traditions of the Community Shield, the match went straight into penalties. But it was
Coming to the shootout, with the aggregate score standing at 4-4, it was left to Aubameyang to score the winning penalty which the Gabonese did with aplomb.
Aubameyang who troubled the Reds no end at his favourite venue, the Wembley, on Saturday night has netted 71 goals from his 110 appearances for Arsenal and no Gunners player has scored more than his five goals at this famous ground.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles was declared the player of the match though. The 23-year old Englishman was not just excellent in the defense but was a threat on the overlap for the Gunners going forward besides coolly converting a penalty too.
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