Kepa’s fateful cameo: he entered for penalties, did not save one, missed his and Chelsea lost the League Cup

the end of the league cup Come in chelsea and Liverpool It had all the ingredients to go down in history. Although the final result was 0-0no one who has seen the meeting can say that the procedure was boring. Both teams went for it all: they had countless scoring opportunities, they made the goalkeepers shine Edward Mendy and Caoimhin Kellehermarked four goals that were annulled at the request of the VAR and forced penalties.

However, the definition had an unsuspected protagonist: the substitute goalkeeper of the Blues, Kepa Arrizabalaga. Based on his high effectiveness in the maximum penalty and successes in previous shootouts, the DT Thomas Tuchel decided to give entrance to the Spanish instead of the Senegalese as overtime ended, believing he would be the key to turning the series around against a much less experienced Kelleher at this point.

The best plays of an exciting final

However, the German coach move was far from having the expected effect. In a batch that became endless, all outfield players converted their penaltiesincluding occasions when Kepa could have made a greater effort to cover them, like the one Ibrahima Konaté scored. And then came the moment when both goalkeepers had to kick. Kelleher was able to fool the Spaniard and score, but he shot well over the crossbargiving Liverpool the title for a result of 11-10.

As well as the negative result itself of Arrizabalaga coming in, failing to save one of his opponents’ shots and missing his own, the change also drew attention to the reputation Mendy had built. Senegalese not only he had shown a colossal level throughout the matchin particular in an unlikely double save in the first half to Sadio Manebut three weeks ago he had become champion of Africa with his team thanks to a tremendous performance on penaltiescovering one of Egypt’s shots.

The penalty shootout that consecrated Liverpool

With the championship won today, Liverpool overtook Manchester City to become the club that has won the most League Cupwith nine celebrations against the eight of the Sky Blues. It should be remembered that the champion of the competition ensures the classification to the UEFA European Conference Leaguethe third most important tournament on the continent, but in the event that the two finalists qualify for the Champions League, the place will go to the sixth or seventh classified of the Premier leaguealso depending on what happens in the FA Cupwhich guarantees a place European League.

For his part, Arrizabalaga had arrived at Chelsea in 2018, immediately after his starting goalkeeper left the club, Thibaut Courtoisfor his US$42 million termination clause to Real Madrid. This unexpected loss at that time forced the London club to pay Athletic Bilbao the full clause of the Spaniard, of US$96.5 millionmaking it to this day the most expensive goalkeeper in football history. However, Arrizabalaga did not show a level that would satisfy the club or its fans, losing first place with willy knight and then with Édouard Mendy, who arrived in 2020 for US$29 million.

Liverpool’s celebration after being victorious in the penalty shootout against Chelsea.Alastair Scholarship – AP

In his first year at Chelsea, Kepa had also had another incident in a previous League Cup final. When his team faced Manchester City in 2019, manager Blue at the time, maurizio sarriHe also tried to change the goalkeeper at the end of the match for the penalty shootout, but on that occasion it was Kepa who had to give place to Caballero. Nevertheless, the basque refused to leavebefore the fury of the Italian, and stayed on the field of play until the end. In the shootout, Arrizabalaga saved Leroy Sané’s penalty, but it was not enough to avoid the triumph of those directed by Pep Guardiola by 4-3.