The Reds won the 2006 Community Shield against Chelsea thanks to goals at either end of the game. A much changed side started the game but even with changes very much deserved to lift the shield at the end of the match.
The roof was open once again at the Millennium stadium as the Reds came out of the tunnel. Jamie Carragher led the side out this time around though as Gerrard sat on the bench resting. Carragher was partnered by Agger at the back. Bolo Zenden was moved inside to the middle of the pitch alongside Alonso and the Dutch man looked far more comfortable than against Haifa. Gonzalez and Pennant gave the Reds good width whilst Garcia played just off Crouch up front.
Liverpool got the game under way attacking a half empty Chelsea end. It looked strange around the stands too see such a large area empty but this goes some way to explain how the shield is perceived these days - a glorified friendly.
The first real incident of the game came on six minutes when Michael Ballack picked up his first booking of the season for a poor tackle on Sissoko. It was the Reds who started the better side and were playing a high tempo game which pressed the London side backwards.
Chelsea's first chance came on eight minutes as Shevchenko tried to force his way though the Reds back line. He never quite got hold of the ball properly though and they could only force a corner. The corner was swung in deep to the area and was missed by everyone. John Arne Riise picked it up just as it sailed out of the area and broke with the ball. Pennant sprinted down the right wing and dragged his man with him but Riise just carried on going. Then 40 yards out as Terry stopped to close him down Riise hit a shot which went in to the bottom corner of the net. A great start for the Reds and a deserved lead.
Chelsea were clearly up for the game but didn't like being harassed on the ball. On sixteen minutes that pressure finally showed on Frank Lampard as he kicked out at Zenden. Sissoko had won a ball fairly in the midfield but as it broke for Lampard Zenden fouled him. The ref blew for a foul but Lampard still kicked out and he was duly shown yellow. Perhaps had Zenden been Arjen Robben he would have gone down shot and got the player sent off.
Chelsea just didn't seem at the races at all and Ferreira for one conceded a corner mid way through the half with a simple back pass. At the other end Ballack blazed a woeful shot way over the bar. It proved his last contribution as well as he hobbled off on twenty three minutes. He pulled up going for a ball and went to the sidelines for treatment. He came back on but it was merely to give time for Kalou to warm up.
Chelsea slowly started to warm up in the game though and with Shevchenko up front they are always going to be a threat. On thirty four minutes he proved why he will be a threat as well when he was given far too much time and space. His shot from distance forced Reina in to a full stretch save which he grabbed at the second attempt.
On thirty eight minutes the Reds again forced the play at the right end and Gonzalez attacked Geremi before shooting hard and low at the near post but Cudicini was equal to it. A few minutes later and Gonzalez was nearly involved in a goal for the Reds. His low drilled cross was met by Garcia and Crouch. The ball looped up towards the goal and it was only a late tip over by Cudicini that stopped a second goal. The Reds duly paid for this as well.
On forty three minutes Shevchenko was played through by Lampard and he took it down superbly. He took one look at Reina and forced his around him and in to the bottom corner of the net. That was the Shevchenko I remembered from Istanbul. He lost in the game as well.
The two sides came out for the second half as they went off at the end of the first half and Chelsea got the game started. They had taken huge heart from the goal at the end of the half and looked to build on it. In the first minute Shevchenko was looking to get past Carragher again but he fouled Carra on the way though.
The Reds could have retaken the lead on forty nine minutes when Garcia played Zenden in but his shot under pressure was a woeful skew wide of the far post. On fifty three minutes the merry go round started as Wayne Bridge came on for Geremi. Quite why you can bring on up to six subs in this is beyond me but there was a steady change around throughout the half from this point on.
Chelsea had started brightly in the half and on fifty four minutes Drogba nearly left Reina red-faced. Drogba meant to cross in to the box but it skewed towards goal and Reina had to tip the ball on to the cross bar and over for a corner. That corner was swung in to the near post and Shevchenko forced a save from Reina.
The first change for the Reds saw Fabio Aurelio come on for Mark Gonzalez after fifty five minutes. Another four minutes passed before Zenden was replaced by Alonso and Pennant was replaced by Gerrard. It meant a very different midfield all of a sudden but one that played to the same style as those that had gone off.
Xabi Alonso was booked on sixty one minutes when he clearly won the ball in a fifty fifty challenge with Essien. Both men slid in for the ball and Alonso won it for me but referee Martin Atkinson decided that simply because Essien hurt himself in the challenge that Alonso had fouled him.
Diarra replaced Robben on sixty two and four minutes later Bellamy came on for Garcia. It gave the Reds a definite front pairing now and it was interesting to see the pair link up. On sixty seven minutes Diarra was booked for a poor tackle from behind on Alonso as the Spanish midfielder threatened counter attack. John Terry should also have gone in the book minutes later when he deliberately blocked Bellamy racing down the touch line.
The game was quite even now with both sides looking to edge out the winner of the game and save it being finished on penalties. Not that penalties bother the Reds much. The game was won by the Reds on seventy nine minutes when Peter Crouch headed past Carlo Cudicini. It was a well worked goal and owed most of it to Craig Bellamy. It was Bellamy who made a good run down the inside left channel and he was found by Aurelio. Bellamy checked back inside and clipped a ball to the back post where Crouch escaped both Terry and Bridge to head home for his first of the season.
Chelsea tried to up the tempo now and grab a late equaliser but they rarely caused panic in the Reds' back unit. I call it a unit as this was a fully oiled unit playing on the day from the front two right back. The Reds even had a chance to win the game with four minutes to go. Steven Gerrard fluffed a cross but somehow it evaded the front two men and arrived at Aurelio. The Brazilian snatched a shot away only to see Cudicini tip it wide for a corner.
Time ticked down now and despite a couple of late free kicks Chelsea never forced Reina in to a save and the final whistle went. The shield was there to Liverpool again and it's always nice to win trophies. It's what the Reds are about at the end of the day.
Overall the Reds deserved the win over Chelsea who didn't look like they were playing superbly well as a unit. It might be a glorified pre-season game but it's always nice to put one over on a potential title rival and Chelsea are certainly that having won the last two titles. What the Reds really have to look at with this one though is the fact that this win came with a much changed side.
The shield was presented by Sir Geoff Hurst to both Jamie Carragher who had captained the side on the day and Steven Gerrard who is the main club captain.
MotM : Momo Sissoko - Momo is simply Momo and this guy covered everything on the day and influenced so much of the play he was awesome.