Arsenal beat Liverpool 5-4 on penalties on Saturday to lift the Community Shield, the curtain-raiser for the English domestic season, after the two sides played out a 1-1 draw on a chilly afternoon at Wembley.
Gunners captain and match goal-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang blasted home the final penalty of the afternoon to complete the north London side’s second win over the league champions in the space of six weeks following a shortened summer break.
“We are improving. There is still work to do but I’m really happy and it’s an exciting time to be an Arsenal player,” Aubameyang told BT Sport after the match. It was the Gunners’ second trophy within a month following the side’s FA Cup final win over Chelsea on Aug. 1.
The game was a very even and at times rather slow affair, with Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk having an early strike ruled out offside before Arsenal’s opener, a well-worked move to break out of the champions’ high press.
Bukayo Saka took the ball up the field on the right, crossed all the way over to Aubameyang on the far left, and the Gabon striker skipped forward and curled an inch-perfect shot beyond the reach of Liverpool keeper Alisson into the opposite corner.
The Liverpool attack appeared disjointed by contrast. While they pushed Arsenal right back up the field for long stretches in the first half, they were unable to put together a single shot on goal.
Liverpool’s Japanese substitute Takumi Minamino levelled the tie in the 73rd minute with a shot from close range, picking up his first goal in 15 appearances since arriving on Merseyside in January.
Mohamed Salah, Fabinho, Minamino and substitute Curtis Jones all scored for Liverpool in the shootout, but fellow substitute Rhian Brewster blasted his shot – his first touch of the ball – onto the bar.
Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Cedric Soares and David Luiz all scored for the Gunners before Aubameyang stroked his shot past Alisson to seal the victory for the Londoners.
When asked about whether he will renew his contract with Arsenal, Aubameyang – their leading scorer for the last two seasons – remained enigmatic: “We’re going to see in these days. Today we take the trophy, that’s it.”