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'We Deserved to Win', Says Thomas Tuchel as Chelsea Stuns Villarreal to Claim UEFA Super Cup Title

Chelsea's goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga celebrates with team mates after the penalty shootout of the UEFA Super Cup soccer match between Chelsea and Villarreal at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021
© AP Photo / Peter Morrison

Former Premier League Champions Chelsea lifted their second successive UEFA title on Wednesday. Their Super Cup triumph over Villarreal came months after the Blues beat Pep Guardiola's Manchester City to capture the UEFA Champions League crown in May, their first in nearly a decade.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has asserted that his team "deserved to win" the UEFA Super Cup after the English team overcame Spain's Villarreal in a sensational penalty shootout, which spectacularly ended in a 6-5 victory for them in Belfast.

"It was tough, 120 minutes out of more or less nothing. We were very strong in the first 30/35 minutes. We lost a bit, easy balls after our goal," Tuchel said after the match. "Second half we were too passive, they equalised and deserved. We gave everything till the 120 minute. We deserved to win."

Tuchel, the master tactician, was the man behind the former five-time English league champions' stunning win over the Spanish team after he decided to substitute regular goalkeeper Edouard Mendy with Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Tuchel's decision to replace Mendy with Arrizabalaga turned out to be a masterstroke as he saved two penalties during the tense penalty shootout, including the decisive kick from Raul Albiol to seal the deal for Chelsea after both teams failed to break the deadlock in extra time.

"This was not spontaneous," Tuchel said about his decision to field Kepa. "We talked about it with the goalkeepers before my first cup game against Barnsley."

"We had some statistics. We were well-prepared that Kepa has the best percentage at saving penalties. The analysing guys, the goalkeeper coaches showed me and introduced me to the data and then we spoke to the players and told them it could happen in cup games. We spoke to the players and Edou was fantastic. We do what we need to do for the team."

He said there is proof that Kepa is better in this discipline and these guys are true team players. "I am happy for Kepa and for Edou to have a goalkeeper like this that does not show the pride to not step off the field. He is happy to do this for the team and take this for the team." 

While Hakim Ziyech gave Chelsea the lead in the 27th minute, Villarreal striker Gerard Moreno brought the game back on an even keel with his equaliser in the 73rd minute.

As both the Blues and the Yellow Submarine couldn't succeed in scoring a goal in extra-time, the match moved to a penalty shootout, where Spanish-born Arrizabalaga made all the difference, winning the match for the English team.

Right at the beginning of the shootout, Kepa succeeded in putting tremendous pressure on Villarreal as he saved their second attempt on Chelsea's goal post.

Despite Villarreal making a brief comeback in the match as the scores were tied at 5-5, Kepa kept his composure as he not only denied Albiol the opportunity to level the proceedings at 6-6, but gave Chelsea the win in what turned out to be a nerve-racking clash in Northern Ireland.

Chelsea's triumph, though, came as no surprise, considering Tuchel's team was better than Villarreal in almost all areas of the game.

For instance, in terms of ball possession, Chelsea outpaced Villarreal, 62% to 38%. The team from England completed 808 passes, while Villarreal had only 499 during the contest.

Villarreal had just 12 shots on goal versus Chelsea's 20. The English side also fouled less - 10 in comparison to Villarreal's 15.

Chelsea's Super Cup triumph could prove to be a morale booster for their players, considering it comes just a few days ahead of their Premier League opener.

The Blues will take on Crystal Palace in their first game of the 2021-22 season on Saturday.

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