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24th Feb 2019

Crazy scenes as Kepa undermines furious Maurizio Sarri and refuses to come off

Sarri did not take kindly to his goalkeeper's stubbornness

Darragh Murphy

It makes you wonder… Would Willy Caballero have done any better in the shootout?

The dying moments of Sunday’s Carabao Cup final were nothing short of farcical from a Chelsea fan’s point of view as goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga dug his heels in and refused to be taken off by under-fire manager Maurizio Sarri.

Kepa had gone down injured on two occasions in quick succession, which is when Caballero was told to warm up.

The substitution appeared to be finalised, with the fourth official’s board signalling that Kepa would be coming off for Caballero but the former refused to listen to his manager’s orders.

Kepa simply ignored Sarri, who furiously reacted to his player’s bullishness and came close to storming down the tunnel as extra time ticked down.

Sarri was convinced to return to give his penalty-takers some last-minute words of advice but he could hardly bring himself to look at Kepa, whose wink to the camera did not go down well as the teams prepared for the shootout.

Credit to Kepa because he did make a stunning save from Leroy Sane but the Spanish stopper definitely should have done better with Sergio Aguero’s strike after giving it plenty with his attempts to unsettle the Argentine prior to his run-up.

Manchester City ultimately came out on top 4-3 in the shootout and Sarri, whose days at Stamford Bridge could well be numbered, will be wondering what might have been if he’d taken the incentive and dragged Kepa off the pitch.

Pundit Jamie Redknapp admitted he had never seen anything like it on the football pitch before and criticised the ‘keeper in his post-match analysis.

“There were so many positives from Chelsea’s point of view but the truth is, when the manager puts your number up to come off then you’ve got to come off. It’s as simple as that,” Redknapp said.

“It’s put the manager in such a difficult position. I felt so sorry for him.”