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.