Edouard Mendy couldn’t stop singing the praises of Kepa Arrizabalaga after Chelsea edged out Villarreal 6-5 from the spot to win the UEFA Super Cup.
The Spanish goalkeeper, who famously refused to be substituted by Maurizio Sarri during the Blues’ Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City and has only ever saved one penalty in the Premier League since joining the club in 2018, was surprisingly called into action late on Wednesday evening.
Arrizabalaga saved from Algeria centre-back Aïssa Mandi before being promptly shown a yellow card for time-wasting. He then watched Villarreall captain Raúl Albiol scuff his shot to hand the west Londoners the Super Cup for the first time since 1998.
“It is not a typical situation, you know, we arrived with the penalties,” the Spanish stopper told BT Sport. “Edo did a fantastic job, it was a tough, tough game, against a very good game.
“Finally, we won, and we are so proud, you know.
“I think all of the team did a fantastic job and I’m happy with the medal.”
And Mendy couldn’t be happier for his teammate, who has endured a turbulent time at Stamford Bridge.
“Of course I’m happy, because we won, and we worked for that, for this success,” the 29-year-old added.
“And I knew since last year, if Kepa come on the pitch, he will help the team.
“And he did today and I’m really happy with Kepa.”
Reflecting on the dramatic shootout, Arrizabalaga revealed that he had gone through intense mental and physical preparation in case the game went to penalties – despite not touching the ball until he picked it out of the back of the net.
“Yeah, it’s not my situation, as I said before,” he admitted.
“I was ready because I knew this could happen and I try to be ready mentally and physically.”
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Next up is a clash with derby rivals Crystal Palace in London on Saturday – the Blues’ opening game of the season – and Mendy attributed the team’s recent success to their tight-knit bond under manager Thomas Tuchel.
“Yes, it’s a team work, it’s a team effort,” he said.
“When you play for Chelsea, you play for success for title[s].
“And we did that today together and we are really happy.”
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