Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has revealed the decision to bring on Super Cup hero Kepa Arrizabalaga for penalty shootouts was made more than six months ago.
Kepa replaced first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy with time running out in extra-time at Windsor Park on Wednesday night and the Super Cup against Villarreal heading to spot kicks.
The Spaniard, who famously refused to be substituted in similar circumstances at the end of the 2019 League Cup final, proceeded to save two penalties as Chelsea won the shootout 6-5.
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Speaking afterwards, Tuchel admitted that the idea of swapping the keepers for penalties had initially been broached ahead of the FA Cup fifth-round tie against Barnsley, his first knockout game in charge of the club.
"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."
The match finished 1-1 after extra-time, and the shootout did not start well for Chelsea as Kai Havertz missed the opening kick.
But Kepa denied Aissa Mandi before pushing away Raul Albiol’s effort in sudden death, and the Spanish keeper acknowledged it was not a typical situation” in which to become a match-winner.
"I was ready because I knew this could happen, and I tried to be ready mentally and physically when we arrived at penalties," he said.
"Edou did a fantastic job before, it was a tough, tough game against a very difficult team. We won and we are so happy. All the team did a fantastic job and we have the medal."
Mendy praised his team-mate as he added: "We work for this success. I knew since last season that if Kepa came on the pitch he would help the team like he did. I am really happy for Kepa.
"This is teamwork, it’s a team effort. When you play for Chelsea you play for success, you play for titles. We did it together and we are happy."
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