BELFAST: Kepa Arrizabalaga is a hero as Chelsea start the new season after finishing with a European trophy by beating Villarreal 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the UEFA Super Cup near Belfast.
The Spanish goalkeeper, who has lost his place as the number one player since joining the club with a world record for goalkeeping in 2018, was included late in extra -time by Thomas Tuchel.
Kepa is notorious for refusing to be replaced by former Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri in the League Cup final when they lost to Manchester City two years ago.
But this time he reciprocated his manager’s trust by saving the attempts of Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol.
“It wasn’t a spontaneous action,” Tuchel said of the planning done at the FA Cup last season.
“We’re talking about goalkeepers after the first trophy match against Barnsley.
“Kepa has the best percentage of penalty saves, those who do the analysis and the goalkeeper coach show me the data. We talk to the players and this can happen when we play in a knockout match. It’s amazing when Edouard (Mendy) accepts it.
“There is evidence that Kepa is better in this discipline. They are team players. Edouard did not show any frustration coming off the field. He was happy to do it for the team and give it to the team.”
Judge Ziyech blasted home Chelsea in the 27th minute but Gerard Moreno equalized in the second half to take the game to a penalty shootout.