Chelsea Beats Villarreal On Penalties To Win Super Cup
By Chidi Nwoke.
Chelsea defeated Villarreal 6-5 on penalties to claim the UEFA Super Cup title after heroics from goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga ensured the Blues came out victorious as the game finished 1-1 after extra-time at Windsor Park in Belfast.
Thomas Tuchel went with five of the starting line-up that won the Champions League final against Manchester City in May with Callum Hudson Odoi at wing-back and Kai Havertz continuing in attack. Villarreal’s goalscorer in the Europa League final, Gerard Moreno, was leading Unai Emery’s attack.
Villarreal defended deep from the outset with Chelsea wing-backs Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso both getting in creating chances inside the first five minutes of the match. In the 27th minute, Chelsea took the lead when Kai Havertz’s cut-back from the wide position fell nicely for Hakim Ziyech to divert the ball into the net.
Villarreal came close to equalising in first-half stoppage time when Gerard Moreno dribbled down the right wing, finding enough space to cross to the far post and find Alberto Moreno. Moreno’s left-footed volley crashed off the crossbar.
In the second half, Villarreal pushed for the equaliser and they came very close to scoring when Mendy’s slip in his box allowed Gerard Moreno to run through. However, the goalkeeper recovered to push the shot against the foot of the post.
The equaliser eventually came in the 73rd minute as Villarreal pushed on. Boulaye Dia found Gerard Moreno with a beautiful pass and the Spain international placed the ball into the net with his first touch.
The goal that made Moreno Villarreal’s club’s record goalscorer. Villarreal finished the stronger of the two sides in normal time and continued to dominate possession into extra-time without creating much.
Tuchel turned to Kepa to replace Mendy in Chelsea’s goal with seconds remaining before penalties.
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 as Antonio Rudiger fired the ball calmly home before veteran Raul Albiol was unable to match him, Kepa saving smartly away to his right.
The decision to bring Kepa on vindicated Tuchel as the Chelsea coach added a second trophy to the Champions League that he won in May. 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.
“It was not spontaneous,” Chelsea manager Tuchel said about bringing on Kepa. “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.”
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“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,” Tuchel added.
“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.”
Chelsea have now won the UEFA Super Cup for the second time (in their fifth final), following their 1-0 victory against Real Madrid in 1998.