Chelsea manager Frank Lampard believes his players were unfortunate to be on the losing side in Wednesday's UEFA Super Cup to Liverpool.
Olivier Giroud opened the scoring for the Blues on the night before Sadio Mane's goal for Liverpool just after half-time got the Reds back on level terms. At the end of extra time, the scores were locked at 2-2 following another strike from Mane and Jorginho's penalty.
The Reds prevailed after spot-kicks, with Tammy Abraham's tame effort saved by Adrian. Afterwards, Lampard reflected on what he thought was a strong performance from his players, per the club's official website:
"I respect Liverpool and they had chances in the game, but it was clear to me that we were the stronger team. We had some bad luck at times and maybe some bad finishing, which we need to be more clinical with, but my overall feeling from the game is one of pride in the team performance.
"I don't like losing. I'm a terrible loser and we all are at Chelsea. We wanted to win this game, but we were unfortunate so I'm happy with the players. If that's a sign of what we can do this season—and we will get better—then it's a really good sign."
BT Sport shared the final stages of the shootout, with Blues forward Abraham firing his effort straight at Adrian:
The performance was undoubtedly an upgrade on Lampard's first competitive game in charge, wherein the Blues were given the runaround in the second half at Old Trafford on Sunday, losing 4-0 to Manchester United.
Liverpool started their Premier League season with a 4-1 win over Norwich City on Friday, and Lampard said after Wednesday's final that he feels the extra rest the Reds were afforded had an impact:
Chelsea FC @ChelseaFC
When asked about Liverpool's extra days of rest before the game, Frank says: 'Two days more recovery this early in the season is clearly an advantage to them, although you wouldn't have known it the way we played. We didn't lose for that reason but it was frustrating.' #SuperCup
Miguel Delaney of The Independent commented on how much Lampard still has to learn as a coach:
The upturn in Chelsea's performance coincided with the returns of some key players to the starting XI.
In attack, Giroud offered a more reliable focal point for long spells of the game and showed his composure in front of goal to open the scoring. Christian Pulisic also starred in his first start for the club, providing ingenuity and thrust from the left flank.
Crucially, Chelsea also had N'Golo Kante back in the starting XI, and he made a huge impression in midfield. Squawka Football provided the numbers behind his display:
Squawka Football @Squawka
@harryedwards16 N'Golo Kanté's #SuperCup by numbers vs. Liverpool: 120 minutes played 102 touches 84% pass accuracy 69 passes 8 take-ons 4 chances created 3 tackles 2 aerial duels won 1 interception 1 clearance 1 shot Doing absolutely everything despite being 'injured'. 🙇♂️ https://t.co/WzpihKklRx
Games against United and Liverpool are a brutal way for Lampard to start his tenure as Chelsea manager. However, in both outings there have been signs of smart attacking play and intensity off the ball that will encourage him.
The worry for Lampard is that his team won't have much recovery time ahead of their next game. Chelsea play their first home fixture of the season on Sunday against a dangerous Leicester City side.