Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a superb goal and netted the winning penalty in a shootout as Arsenal beat Premier League champions Liverpool in the Community Shield at an empty Wembley Stadium.
Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster, brought on in stoppage time, hit the crossbar with his penalty – the only one not converted in the shootout.
Aubameyang’s curling strike gave FA Cup winners Arsenal the lead in the first half before Liverpool substitute Takumi Minamino equalised after the break.
Minamino’s flicked pass to Mohamed Salah bounced back kindly for him to slot home from close range.
There was a quick VAR check for handball by Salah but the replay showed no clear contact.
It is the second year in a row Liverpool have lost on penalties after Manchester City’s victory in 2019.
Aubameyang leads Arsenal to move silverware
Aubameyang’s importance to Arsenal was once again shown in another impressive performance.
The Gabon international, who scored twice in the FA Cup final at the same stadium this month, cut inside from the left and whipped the ball into the far corner in emphatic style to open the scoring.
He continued to terrorise Liverpool’s defence, exposing young right-back Neco Williams.
And when Aubameyang stepped up to take the final penalty, with the score 4-4 in the shootout, there was no way he was going to miss.
He has netted 71 goals in 110 Arsenal appearances and no Gunners player has scored more than his five goals at the venue.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said on Friday he was “pretty confident” the skipper will sign a new contract after a long, painful wait for supporters.
After lifting their second piece of silverware in a month, it would cap off a very pleasing summer for Arsenal if Aubameyang does eventually put pen to paper.
Stuttering Liverpool fall short again
Liverpool were without regular starters Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson but they fielded a side many would feel were capable of beating Arsenal.
They started off on the front foot, with Sadio Mane getting in behind on numerous occasions on the left and linking up with full-back Andy Robertson.
But sloppiness crept into their game as the first half wore on – Virgil van Dijk berated Georginio Wijnaldum and Fabinho on separate occasions for giving the ball away too easily in midfield.
Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles was impressive and caused problems, while Bukayo Saka was busy in and around the Liverpool box.
However, Liverpool had plenty of chances to score. An unmarked James Milner headed over the bar, Van Dijk almost got on the end of a Mane flick-on and Roberto Firmino had the ball in the net, only for it to be ruled out for offside.
Liverpool grew more dominant in the second half – Minamino deservedly drew them level with more than 15 minutes to play – but they could not find a winner.
Arsenal’s Joe Willock had a brilliant chance to make it 2-1 with five minutes to go when he miscued his header following Cedric Soares’ cross from the right.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp brought off Wijnaldum, who had his penalty saved in last year’s shootout by City, and replaced him with 20-year-old Brewster, but the England youth international crashed his spot-kick off the bar.
There is certainly no need to panic but the air of invincibility Liverpool had throughout most of the 2019-20 league campaign has worn off in recent months following a patch of two defeats and a draw in seven games at the end of the season.
Man of the match – Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
‘You never get used to winning’ – what they said
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, speaking to BT Sport: “You never get used to winning. I knew the challenge we faced today against this incredible opponent. Thank you very much to the players for the effort and performance.
“The courage of the team, how aggressive we were without the ball and against the Liverpool press. I am pleased and knew in the second half we would suffer. But in the penalties we had courage to do them right.
“In the last 10 minutes we took the ball and played in the final third. I am pleased how they competed. It creates belief.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, speaking to BT Sport: “We deserved the equaliser and could have scored more but we didn’t do that.
“When you play against a formation like this then you need to be really fresh in the final third and you need to force it, create angles. The rhythm for that fell a little bit. Today it was not enough.”
Penalty shootout domination – the best of the stats
- Arsenal have won the Community Shield for a 16th time (including shared titles), overtaking opponents Liverpool (15 times) and only behind Manchester United (21). The Gunners have won the trophy in four of the last seven seasons.
- Liverpool are the first side ever to lose the Community Shield on penalties in back-to-back years; this is also the first time the Reds have participated in the competition twice in two seasons without winning it (including shared) since the 1983 and 1984 matches.
- Arsenal have won the Community Shield as FA Cup winners seven times (including as league/cup double winners and including shared titles) – more than any other side. Each of their last four Community Shield victories have come as FA Cup winners.
- They are the only the second side to win the Community Shield after a penalty shootout more than once, after Manchester United (five times).
- Arsenal have won nine of their last 11 penalty shootouts in all competitions, including two in the Community Shield. Meanwhile, Liverpool have lost three of their last five shootouts, including two in the Community Shield.
- Aubameyang is now Arsenal’s joint-top scorer in games played at Wembley Stadium (5, level with Alexis Sanchez). Aubameyang’s five goals at the ground have come in the space of just 42 days.
- Only Kevin De Bruyne (22) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (15) have provided more assists for Premier League sides in all competitions since the start of last season than Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka (13).
- Minamino is the first player to score his first ever goal for Liverpool at Wembley, netting this goal in his 15th appearance and with his 12th shot for the Reds in all competitions.