Kepa Arrizabalaga came off the bench to save two penalties and earn Chelsea Super League success in a shoot-out victory over Villarreal.
Thomas Tuchel made the call to replace Edouard Mendy in the closing stages of the 1-1 draw – with Kepa then providing the heroics.
Kai Havertz missed the first spot-kick but after that Chelsea were perfect while both Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol both saw their penalties saved as Chelsea won the shoot-out 6-5.
What was the score at full-time?
Hakim Ziyech shone from the start and opened the scoring only to injure his shoulder before half-time to give Thomas Tuchel a worry ahead of the Premier League opener against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
For their large spells of dominance, Chelsea’s goal lived a charmed life as Villareal twice hit the woodwork before the prolific Gerard Moreno drew them level.
That was the end of the scoring after 90 minutes and when there were no further goals in extra time, the tie was settled on penalties with Tuchel’s decision to bring on Kepa moments before the shoot-out proving to be inspired.
Why was Eduoard Mendy taken off?
There were eyebrows raised as Kepa replaced Edouard Mendy towards the end of the 1-1 draw at Belfast’s Windsor Park on Wednesday night.
Mendy had enjoyed a decent night between the posts but showed no signs of annoyance when he was replaced with just seconds remaining as Tuchel explained the effort put in by his staff to find his best goalkeeper for saving penalties.
“Since I arrived we have an unbelievable amount and quality of support in the structure of the club and this is one good example,” he said.
“In my first cup game (as Chelsea boss) against Barnsley we had talks with the goalkeeper coaches and the analysing department, who came up with a statistic that Willy Cabellero was the best in penalty defending.
“They analysed thousands of penalties from Willy, then second-best was Kepa and third-best was Edouard in this statistic.
“So we spoke to all three of the goalkeepers very openly that it can be that when we have a situation like this and we have a change left, then we take the change.
“Not for personal reasons but to help the team, to improve the chances because we had this proof of statistics.
“Willy is not there any more but the three accepted it in a fantastic manner, it showed all the spirit that this team trains and lives together and they said this is absolutely no problem.
“You see today, Mendy puts his ego to the side when we take this decision and he was aware – I think that is key, he is aware why we do this.
“It is not a sudden idea of the manager on the sideline. This was planned and openly discussed with the goalkeepers and I’m very happy they showed this type of team spirit and it was fine to take this one to the team.”