The 2021 European football season got underway on Wednesday night as Champions League winners Chelsea took on Europa League holders Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast for the UEFA Super Cup.
After 120 minutes of football ended 1-1, Chelsea went on to win 6-5 on penalties to land their first Super Cup title since 1998.
Kepa Arrizabalaga was the hero of the match as he was introduced late in extra-time as a substitute for the shootout.
Thomas Tuchel introduced the Spaniard who lost his place as number one since joining the club for a world record fee for a goalkeeper in 2018, late in extra-time as a substitute for the shootout.
Tuchel sprung a slight surprise by deploying Trevoh Chalobah among a three-man defensive line. This marked the 22-year-old’s first competitive start for Chelsea, after loan spells that have stretched from Ipswich to FC Lorient.
Kepa, a £71m player named among the substitutes for the Super Cup, stepped forward to replace Edouard Mendy.
Tuchel’s strategy was to be fully justified as Kepa, at full stretch to his right, batted away Raúl Albiol’s penalty to claim the trophy for Chelsea.