Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga repeated Man Utd legend's penalty tactic against Villarreal

  • Tom Ward
Kepa Arrizabalaga used the oldest trick in the book during Chelsea’s penalty win over Villarreal.

Chelsea’s substitute goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga used the oldest trick in the book during his team’s UEFA Super Cup win over Villarreal at Windsor Park. 

As Raul Albiol stepped up to take his penalty, Arrizabalaga pointed with his left glove towards the goalpost to distract the captain and then dived onto the ball from the opposite direction as it threatened to squirm over the line. 

The Spaniard then kicked the ball away amid scenes of utter jubilation before being mobbed by the rest of his teammates.  

Former Athletic Bilbao stopper Arrizabalaga, 26, was left on the bench for the final game of the season – a 1-0 win over Manchester City at Estadio do Dragao that saw the Blues lift the Champions League trophy for the second time in the club’s history. 

But the 6ft 1in keeper refused to let the disappointment get the better of him as he shouldered the responsibility to save Villarreal’s sixth and decisive penalty.

Arrizabalaga threw himself to his right to keep out Albiol’s rather tame effort to seal a dramatic 6-5 shootout win.    

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But rather than simply standing still rooted to the spot, The Athletic’s Liam Twomey noticed the stopper pointed one way and then dived the other, in scenes very reminiscent of Edwin van der Sar‘s penalty tactics in the 2008 Champions League final defeat to Manchester United.  

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Taking to Twitter, Twomey wrote: “Kepa pointed to his left and then dived to his right to save Raul Albiol’s penalty – exactly the same trick Van der Sar pulled on Anelka to settle the 2008 CL final shootout in Moscow.”

One fan wrote in reply: “This psychology needs to be taught in schools…”

Another said: “Maybe it’s just a coincidence but that goal keeping department is functioning very well since Cech joined management.”

Chelsea fans react to Kepa Arrizabalaga's goalkeeping heroics during Chelsea's win over Villarreal on Wednesday night.

A third tweeted: “Finally come full circle i can sleep at night again.”

Chelsea fans rave about Kepa Arrizabalaga's goalkeeping heroics against Villarreal

One even went as far as saying: “Kepa confusing Albiol with his hands and movement is the best thing you’d see today.”

Chelsea fans wax lyrical about Kepa Arrizabalaga's goalkeeping heroics

American winger Christian Pulisic – who also scored an extra-time winner for the United States in the Concacaf Nations League final against Mexico – also set tongues wagging with his calmly-taken penalty in the shootout. 

Before the kick from America’s spot-kick specialist, Pulisic actually missed a half-decent chance late in extra-time as he scuffed his shot wide from a few yards out.

But the American ace then struck the ball perfectly to send it flying into the back of the net.  

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