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Kepa the shootout hero as Chelsea triumph over Villarreal in Super Cup

Kepa the shootout hero as Chelsea triumph over Villarreal in Super Cup

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2018 record-breaking signing for Chelsea, goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was the hero last night as Chelsea secured their first Super Cup title since 1998 and only the second one in the club’s history running out 6-5 winners in a penalty shootout against Villarreal following a 1-1 draw at Belfast Ireland after 120 minutes of play.

Winger Hakim Ziyech opened the scoring after 27 minutes after a good play down the left flank by Kai Havertz who was played by a superb long pass by left wing-back Marcos Alonso.

The first half saw Chelsea creating many chances but lacking the agility to turn them into goals although they headed to the break leading the tie 1-0.

Villarreal left-back Alberto Moreno hit the woodwork just before the halftime whistle and were it not for the woodwork, the Unai Emery’s side would have headed into the break at 1-1.

Forward Gerard Moreno was not lucky either in the early stages hitting the woodwork to having beaten Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

Gerard however had every reason to smile as he restored parity for his side in the 73rd minute with a fine finish to force the match into the extra time.

Kepa was bought on shortly before the end of the extra time, solely for penalties proved why he was worth being called the most expensive goalkeeper, by denying both Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol to make sure Chelsea are double European Champions having lifted the UEFA Champions League back in May.

Kepa save

Kepa making the save to deny Raul Albiol.
PHOTO: Courtesy

The English side started the match on a high note with both Timo Werner and Champions League finals winner Kai Havertz forcing Sergio Asenjo to early saves in the first half.

Asenjo was however helpless when Ziyech swept his finish to continue the impressive form he has been for the blues in the pre-season.

Ziyech was however injured a few minutes later and was subbed off for American winger Christian Pulisic, with Alberto Moreno denied by the crossbar a few minutes later.

Villarreal started the second half the better side and put the Champions League side under pressure. Shot-stopper Edouard Mendy almost cost his team after handling the ball to Gerard Moreno, the forward was however not able to finish, hitting the woodwork to give Mendy a sigh of relief.

However, the Villarreal forward quickly made amends, exchanging a one-two passes with Boulaye Dia before firing a shot over Mendy for his 23rd goal of 2021, which now ranks him fifth highest goal scorer in 2021 across Europe’s top five leagues.

Moreno goal

Villarreal forward Gerard Moreno firing a shot past Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to equalize for Villarreal.
PHOTO: Courtesy

Both Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount had good chances in the extra time but they could not finish, sending the match to penalties and just before the final whistle and with the penalties insight, Tuchel sent on Kepa in a tactical move that worked for his side.

The first kick by Kai Havertz was ultimately saved by Asenjo, but that advantage for Villarreal faded away when Kepa made his first save.

With no further misses between the other eight takers, more kicks were necessary. After Antonio Rudiger scored his attempt, Kepa dived the right way to deny Raul Albiol to make Chelsea the 2021 UEFA Super Cup Champions.

Nathan Sialah is a journalist by profession with interest in politics, sports, cryptocurrency and human interests with 5 years experience in Radio and Digital Journalism. This has helped Sialah develop a responsible approach to any task he undertakes or any situation that he is presented with.

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