Kepa Arrizabalaga came off the bench to be the hero in Chelsea’s Super Cup win and Edouard Mendy claimed he always backed his team-mate to prove his worth in the penalty shootout
Edouard Mendy was full of praise for Kepa Arrizabalaga after the goalkeeper made himself the hero in Chelsea’s Super Cup win over Villarreal.
The Spaniard came off the bench with seconds of extra-time remaining as the contest headed for penalties.
He saved two spot kicks, including the decisive one from Raul Albiol in sudden death, as the Champions League winners were victorious in Belfast.
Mendy has established himself as the club’s first choice having arrived last summer.
But he willing allowed Kepa to replace him prior to the shootout and claimed he had total confidence in his colleague.
He said after the win: “Of course I’m happy because we won. We worked for this success. I knew since last year that if Kepa comes on the pitch he would help the team. He did today. I’m really happy with Kepa”
Kepa famously refused to come off in the Carabao Cup final in 2019 despite Maurizio Sarri wanting to bring on Willy Caballero.
On that occasion he was not the hero, but Thomas Tuchel revealed that they had always planned for the Spaniard to come in for a shootout.
The German stated that Kepa had a better save percentage and the decision to swap the goalkeepers was months in the making.
“It was not spontaneous,” Tuchel 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 a 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.”
Chelsea’s success on Wednesday night was their second Super Cup success following their victory over Real Madrid in 1998.
Recently they had lost the one-off game on three successive occasions in 2012, 2013 and 2019.