Tuchel happy to win another trophy but concerned by Super Cup exertion
Thomas Tuchel says winning the Super Cup over Villarreal was the perfect way to start the season for Chelsea from a mental standpoint, but the fact that his players needed to play 120 minutes and a penalty shootout to get the job done, also means it was the worst thing that could happen to them from a physical point of view.
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 stuck at 1-1 after extra time, it took a 6-5 penalty shootout win at Windsor Park in Belfast for Thomas Tuchel’s side to win thanks to their substitute keeper.
Kepa replaced Edouard Mendy only seconds from the end, but after saving Aissa Mendy to undo the failure of Kai Havertz, he won the trophy by stopping Raul Albiol.
Chelsea had taken a deserved lead after 27 minutes thanks to Hakim Ziyech, but Villarreal improved from there and equalized thanks to Gerard Moreno after 73 minutes. Neither team has found a winner in overtime, but Tuchel’s surprise tactical change secured Chelsea their second Super Cup victory and their first in 23 years.
Villarreal defended deeply from the start with Chelsea wing-backs Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso both behind in the opening five minutes of the game. Timo Werner forced a smart save from Sergio Asenjo with a volley from a corner and Chelsea captain N’Golo Kante then recovered the ball before shooting past the target.
Unai Emery’s side appeared to settle in midway through the first half but were later caught by an excellent Chelsea move initiated by Alonso from deep on the left. His pass found Havertz’s run and the German’s recoil from wide stance passed behind Werner but fell well for Ziyech to deflect the ball into the net.
Unfortunately for Ziyech, his evening ended soon after. A mid-air collision with Juan Foyth resulted in a shoulder injury and a lot of pain. Christian Pulisic replaces him. The incident appeared to dampen Chelsea’s momentum and Villarreal, having already tested Edouard Mendy through Boulaye Dia, almost equalized in the first-half stoppage time. Gerard Moreno twisted and spun into the right channel, finding enough space to cross to the far post and find Alberto Moreno whose left-footed volley crashed into the crossbar.
It turned out to be a sign of things to come as Villarreal pushed for the equalizer. They nearly found him when Mendy’s slide from a kick allowed Gerard Moreno to cross but the keeper recovered to repel the strike against the foot of the post. With the pressure building, youngster Trevor Chalobah was very busy at the back, sometimes taken out of position but always combative as Chelsea fought to maintain their advantage.
Tuchel got used to racking up 1-0 wins in big games, but there was not to be a repeat here – the leveler arrived in the 73rd minute when Dia prepared Gerard Moreno. It was a fine job from the Spain international, a deserved equalizer based on Villarreal’s efforts to get behind, and a goal that made him the club’s top scorer.
Chelsea turned to the bench but couldn’t turn the tide, with Villarreal finishing strongest in normal times and continuing to dominate possession in overtime without creating much. In fact, it was Pulisic who got the first good chance during extra time, his shot just a little rushed as he was well placed inside the box after a good job from fellow submarine Mason Mount. Mount himself had the next chance, shooting an impressive save from Asenjo to the left of the goalkeeper, but there was no overtime winner
Tuchel turned to Kepa to replace Mendy in Chelsea’s goal with seconds left, an ironic change given the Spaniard refused to be substituted in the 2019 Carabao Cup final. When Havertz saw the first kick saved by Asenjo, Kepa was already under pressure and although he couldn’t prevent Gerard Moreno’s kick, he saved Aissa Mandi well. Cesar Azpilicueta, Alonso and Mount all converted their penalties before Jorginho also beat Asenjo.
He went to the seventh kicks with Antonio Rudiger calmly stroking the ball at home before veteran Albiol was unable to match him, with Kepa smartly saving to his right.
Ziyech (27′), Gerard Moreno (73′)