Kepa Goes From Shoutout Villain To Super Cup Hero

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With penalties looming in a big cup final, Kepa Arrizabalaga and a late substitute. Does this ring a bell? The £71m Spaniard refused to come out for Willy Caballero late in injury time in the 2019 Carabao Cup final against Manchester City, an incident that has so far been the defining highlight of his time at Stamford Bridge. On that occasion, he saved one penalty, but they still lost, and he was punished by the club for defying manager Maurizio Sarri’s orders.

The roles were flipped on Wednesday, with Kepa being the one to take the field. It was the Uefa Super Cup against Villarreal in Belfast this time, and the game ended 1-1 when Gerard Moreno equalized Hakim Ziyech’s opener. And it all came to a glorious conclusion this time. It also helped that the player he replaced, Edouard Mendy, who played well, was more open to the notion.

During the shootout, Kepa was quite active, getting in opponents’ faces and performing some theatrics on the goalline. He was successful, as he saved two penalties, one from Aissa Mandi and the other from Raul Albiol. He was surrounded by ecstatic teammates who wanted to share the joy with him after he saved Albiol’s kick.

After the game, manager Thomas Tuchel stated that the plan had been in the works since February, when his team beat Manchester City in the Champions League final. Mendy was courteous as he exited the field, hugging Kepa and saying in a post-match interview with Kepa that he knew it would happen.

Source: BBC Sport

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