Chelsea finally won the UEFA Super Cup after two previous unsuccessful attempts
Chelsea won the UEFA Super Cup 2021 after seeing off Villarreal 6-5 on penalties at Windsor Park in Belfast. Kepa Arrizabalaga was the unlikely hero as the estranged Blues custodian saved the decisive spot-kick from Raul Albiol to clinch their second trophy of the year.
The match had ended 1-1 in normal time, with Hakim Ziyech’s first-half opener canceled out by Gerard Moreno in the 73rd minute. The Champions League winners, as you’d expect, had more of the ball, although the Yellow Submarine prevented them from creating many chances.
It continued even in extra-time as there was nothing to separate the two sides. Chelsea eventually prevailed in a thrilling shoot-out thanks to Kepa’s heroics as he made two saves.
Chelsea now turn their attention towards Saturday’s (August 14) opening league fixture against Crystal Palace. Villarreal, on the other hand, host Granada late on Sunday (August 15) to kick-off their new La Liga season.
Here are the hits and flops from the match:
#5 Hit: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea)
Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga
Let’s start with Chelsea’s hero of the night. Kepa Arrizabalaga made two saves in the shootout, denying Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol, to win the match for his side.
Kepa is now an estranged figure at the club, given his erroneous displays and subsequent demotion following Edouard Mendy’s arrival. Yet the Spaniard has refused to give up on his time. Against Villarreal, head coach Tuchel gave him another big opportunity to prove his mettle by subbing him on for Mendy in the 119th minute, and he didn’t disappoint.
Kepa guessed the right way for Mandi at Villarreal’s second attempt and drew Chelsea level. He then won them the contest in sudden death by keeping out Albiol.
Of course, this wouldn’t immediately guarantee him a spot in Chelsea’s XI again, but Kepa showed he’s willing to fight for it.
#4 Flop: Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
Clouds of uncertainty continue to hang over Kurt Zouma’s time at Chelsea and he didn’t help himself with a bland performance tonight.
With reports of a Chelsea exit doing the rounds, this was an opportunity for the Frenchman to make a last-ditch effort and rescue his career with the London outfit. However, Zouma was far from his usual best, looking wistful and lethargic at times, and was also suspect in positioning and lacking in awareness.
His passing accuracy was brilliant, completing 100% of his passes, but Zouma’s defensive game was not up to scratch tonight. The centre-back was subbed off after 65 minutes.
#3 Hit: Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)
Gerard Moreno for Villarreal
A night of redemption for Gerard Moreno, who endured a rollercoaster of a match against Chelsea.
The striker was kept under wraps in the opening stanza but sprung to life after the break. He missed a great chance to equalize early on into the second-half, but made up for that miss by scoring Villarreal’s equalizer in the 73rd minute. Moreno played a neat one-two with Boulaye Dia before producing an emphatic finish beyond Mendy to restore parity.
Then in the shoot-outs, Moreno successfully converted his penalty too, although he was unlucky that it amounted to nothing. Nevertheless, it was an excellent performance from the Spaniard that also earned him the Player of the Match award.
#2 Flop: Timo Werner (Chelsea)
Timo Werner drew another blank in the Super Cup
New season, same old Timo Werner. The German once again struggled to get himself involved in the game and went off in the second-half without a goal or an assist.
He was once again a decent presence in the build-up by offering Chelsea some outlets in the channels and keeping Villarreal’s defense on the tenterhooks. However, nothing significant came of it, and Werner had only 17 touches in 64 minutes of action. He also laid out just seven passes and mustered a solitary shot on target from as many attempts.
It was still the first official game back for the players since their break but it was not a memorable return to action for the former RB Leipzig star. His first-team chances will diminish if he isn’t able to conjure his best form with prolific goalscorer Romelu Lukaku currently on his way to Chelsea.
#1 Hit: Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea)
Hakim Ziyech got himself another European goal
Chelsea’s scorer of the night, Hakim Ziyech, too, recovered from a poor start and scored a beautiful goal which put his side in the driver’s seat for almost an hour.
A peripheral figure for the opening 20 minutes of the game, the Moroccan suddenly burst into life thereafter. He gave Chelsea the lead in the 23rd minute. Collecting a pass from Kai Havertz, Ziyech produced a tidy finish beyond Sergio Asenjo. He also created a few good chances for his teammates after the goal.
Just when it seemed like the former Ajax wizard was peaking, injury reared its ugly head, and his night was cruelly cut-short with a knock to his arm. Ziyech was subbed off at the break and images of him midway through the second-half saw the star sit on the bench with a sling supporting his right hand.
Chelsea boss Tomas Tuchel will hope it is nothing serious and to have his star winger fit again as soon as possible.