Thomas Tuchel made the bold call, and Kepa Arrizabalaga made the large saves. Brought on as a substitute with seconds remaining in overtime, Kepa kept out two spot-kicks as Chelsea beat Villarreal 6-5 during a penalty shootout to win the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday. Tuchel, the Chelsea manager, has been informed by his team of statisticians that Kepa features a better record at saving penalties than first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, therefore the substitution was made within the 119th minute of a match that ended 1-1 after overtime.
Kepa had already saved a penalty from Aissa Mandi when he dived low to his right again and parried out Raul Albiol’s attempt in what proved to be the ultimate kick of the shootout at Windsor Park in Northern Ireland . As Chelsea’s players sprinted from the halfway line to celebrate with Kepa, one among the primary to succeed in him was Mendy. “It’s fantastic how Edu accepts it,” Tuchel said. “ we would have liked to try to do what’s best for the team. … there’s proof that Kepa is best during this discipline.”
Less than 10 weeks after Chelsea’s 1-0 convert Manchester City within the Champions League final in Porto, Cesar Azpilicueta was again lifting a eutrophy to the backdrop of fireworks and ticker tape. Among the players celebrating on stage behind him was Hakim Ziyech, who had his right arm during a sling after a suspected dislocated jostle the 40th minute — 13 minutes after putting Chelsea into the lead by converting a cross from Kai Havertz.
That was canceled out by Gerard Moreno within the 73rd for the Spain international’s record 83rd goal for Villarreal — breaking the record he shared with U.S.-born former Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi. Moreno exchanged a one-two with Boulaye Dia before lifting his shot over Mendy and into the highest corner. Villarreal was playing within the Super Cup because the Europa League champion, a tournament it won by beating Manchester United during a penalty shootout. thereon occasion, all of its players converted their penalties within the shootout before goalkeeper Gerónimo Rulli saved from counterpart David De Gea to seal an 11-10 win.
Rulli was on the bench Wednesday, with Sergio Asenjo starting as a goalkeeper and he saved the primary kick of the shootout from Havertz. Chelsea scored its next six, while Kepa saved Villarreal’s second — from Mandi — then Albiol, Villarreal’s 35-year-old captain. “I was ready because I knew this might happen,” Kepa said.
Kepa memorably refused to return off near the top of the English League final in 2019, despite being called to the bench by then-manager Maurizio Sarri. Backup keeper Willy Caballero, a penalty specialist, was able to come on as a replacement and it led to Sarri almost storming off down the tunnel at Wembley Stadium. Wednesday’s match — billed because the most prestigious ever to be staged in Northern Ireland — was played ahead of 13,000 people, with Windsor Park at 70% capacity during the pandemic and spectators required to wear face masks.