Chelsea 1-1 Villarreal (6-5 on penalties): Kepa Arrizabalaga is Super Cup hero as Thomas Tuchel’s side win on penalties
Report as Chelsea won the UEFA Super Cup 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw with Villarreal in Belfast; Hakim Ziyech and Gerard Moreno scored in normal time; Kepa Arrizabalaga came on as a substitute late in extra-time before saving two spot-kicks
Chelsea won the Super Cup in dramatic circumstances as Kepa Arrizabalaga came off the bench to be the penalty hero against Villarreal.
With the teams locked at 1-1 after extra-time it took a 6-5 win on penalties at Windsor Park in Belfast for Thomas Tuchel’s side to win it thanks to their substitute goalkeeper.
Kepa only came on for Edouard Mendy with seconds remaining but after saving from Aissa Mendy to cancel out Kai Havertz’s miss, he won the trophy by denying Raul Albiol.
Chelsea had taken a deserved lead after 27 minutes thanks to Hakim Ziyech but Villarreal improved from there and earned their equaliser through Gerard Moreno after 73 minutes.
Neither team found a winner in extra-time but Tuchel’s surprise tactical switch secured Chelsea their second Super Cup win and their first for 23 years.
How Chelsea won the Super Cup
Villarreal defended deep from the outset with Chelsea wing-backs Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso both getting in behind inside the first five minutes of the match.
Timo Werner forced a smart save from Sergio Asenjo with a volley from a corner and N’Golo Kante, captaining Chelsea, then won the ball back before just firing wide of the target.
Unai Emery’s side seemed to settle by the midway point of the first half but were then caught out by an excellent Chelsea move instigated by Alonso from deep on the left.
His pass found the run of Havertz and the German’s cut-back from the wide position went behind Werner but fell nicely for Ziyech to divert the ball into the net.
Unfortunately for Ziyech, his evening was over soon after. A mid-air collision with Juan Foyth resulted in an injury to his shoulder and plenty of pain. Christian Pulisic replaced him.
The incident seemed to curtail Chelsea’s momentum and Villarreal, having already tested Edouard Mendy through Boulaye Dia came close to equalising in first-half stoppage time.
Gerard Moreno twisted and turned in the right channel, finding enough space to cross to the far post and find Alberto Moreno whose left-footed volley crashed off the crossbar.
With six of the previous eight Super Cups having gone to extra-time, it was another reminder for Chelsea that despite their strong start the job was not yet done.
It turned out to be a sign of things to come too as Villarreal pushed for the equaliser.
They came very close to finding it when Mendy’s slip while kicking allowed Gerard Moreno to run through but the goalkeeper recovered to push the shot against the foot of the post.
With pressure building, young Trevor Chalobah was very busy at the back, occasionally caught out of position but always combative as Chelsea battled to retain their advantage.
Tuchel has made a habit of racking up 1-0 wins in the big games but there was to be no repeat here – the leveller coming in the 73rd minute when Dia teed up Gerard Moreno.
It was fine work by the Spain international, a deserved equaliser on the basis of Villarreal’s efforts upon going behind. and a goal that made him the club’s record goalscorer.
Chelsea turned to the bench but could not turn the tide, Villarreal finishing the stronger in normal time and continuing to dominate possession into extra-time without creating much.
In fact, it was Pulisic who had the first good chance during the extra period, his shot just a little rushed when well placed inside the box after good work by fellow sub Mason Mount.
Mount himself had the next chance, drawing an impressive save from Asenjo high to the goalkeeper’s left, but there was no extra-time winner – just substitution drama.
Chelsea: Mendy (7), Zouma (6), Chalobah (6), Rudiger (6), Hudson-Odoi (6), Kante (7), Kovacic (7), Alonso (7), Ziyech (7), Havertz (7), Werner (6).
Subs Pulisic (6), Jorginho (6), Mount (7), Christensen (6), Azpilicueta (6), Kepa (7).
Villarreal: Asenjo (7), Foyth (7), Albiol (7), Pau Torres (6), Pedraza (6), Trigueros (6), Capoue (6), Alberto Moreno (6), Pino (5), Gerard Moreno (7), Dia (7).
Subs Estupinan (7), Gaspar (6), Gomez (6), Raba (6), Morlanes (6), Mandi (5).
Tuchel turned to Kepa to replace Mendy in Chelsea’s goal with seconds remaining, an ironic switch given that the Spaniard refused to be subbed in the 2019 Carabao Cup final.
When Havertz saw the first kick saved by Asenjo, Kepa was already under pressure and though he was unable to keep out Gerard Moreno’s kick, he did save well from Aissa Mandi.
Cesar Azpilicueta, Alonso and Mount all converted their penalties before Jorginho also beat Asenjo, putting right his error from the spot in the final of Euro 2020 just weeks earlier.
It went to the seventh kicks with Antonio Rudiger stroking the ball calmly home before the veteran Albiol was unable to match him, Kepa saving smartly away to his right.
It vindicated Tuchel’s decision as the Chelsea coach added a second trophy to the Champions League that he won in May.
He can do no wrong.
What Tuchel said about the Kepa substitution
“It was not spontaneous,” the Chelsea manager told BT Sport.
“We talked about it with the goalkeepers when we came and had the first cup game against Barnsley. So we had some statistics, we were well prepared, that Kepa is the best in percentage in saving penalties.
“The analysis guys and the goalkeeping coaches showed me, introduced me to the data, then we spoke with the players, that this can happen when we play in knockout game, and since then they know.
“It’s fantastic how Eddy accepts it. It’s fantastic how this talk went before the cup game in Barnsley. Since then they know. Of course we needed to do what’s good for the team. It was necessary. I’m happy that it worked.
“There is proof that Kepa is better at this discipline. These guys are true team players. I am happy for Kepa and happy for Eddy, to have a goalkeeper like this, to not show the pride to not step off the field, and is happy to do it for the team, to take one for the team. It’s top.”
Analysis: Tuchel gets it right again
It was not easy for Chelsea and if Villarreal had edged this there could have been few complaints. After a strong start, the Champions League winners found it difficult. But Tuchel’s stunning start to life at Stamford Bridge continues. He got the big call right.
There was some bemusement when Kepa came on, the accepted wisdom being that Mendy is the superior goalkeeper and as such would be better placed to save the penalties in the shootout too. But Tuchel does not do accepted wisdom, he does logic and analysis.
The data told him that Kepa is more likely to save spot-kicks than Mendy. He went with it knowing that while there would have been criticism if it had not gone Chelsea’s way, there was a method behind it. The lesson from his time in England is that Tuchel’s methods work.
- Chelsea have won the UEFA Super Cup for the second time (in their fifth final), following their 1-0 victory over Real Madrid in 1998.
- The Champions League winners have now won the UEFA Super Cup in eight of the last nine seasons, while they had won just four of the previous nine before this run.
- Just three of the 47 Super Cup finals have gone to penalties, with Chelsea being involved in all three – winning tonight, and losing against Bayern Munich in 2013 and Liverpool in 2019.
- For the third year in a row, the UEFA Super Cup has been won by a German manager (Jurgen Klopp in 2019, Hansi Flick in 2020 and Thomas Tuchel in 2021).
- Chelsea became the first English team to win the UEFA Super Cup when playing a non-English side in the final since Liverpool in 2005.
- Villarreal were the seventh different Spanish team to feature in the Super Cup, and the first to lose on their first appearance in the match since Real Madrid in 1998 – also against Chelsea.
- Gerard Moreno has scored eight goals in his last nine appearances in European competition for Villarreal. Meanwhile, only six players have scored goals for a top five European league side in all competitions since the start of last season than the Spaniard (31).
- Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has never lost against Spanish opposition in his managerial career, winning four and drawing five of his nine such games.
What next for Chelsea?
Chelsea celebrated this victory vociferously but perhaps there will be Crystal Palace supporters who also welcomed the energy being expended by the European champions. Palace are the visitors to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
Tuchel himself noted his concern even while enjoying the moment in Belfast. “Mentally a good one, physically the worst thing that can happen, to then play Saturday afternoon. Victory and a trophy helps us regenerate and we have to be careful now.”
Glorified friendly, welcome piece of silverware or both? The Community Shield goes to penalties after 90 minutes but this contest ran for the full two hours. Perhaps we will find out just how much that has taken out of some of these Chelsea players this Saturday.