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27th Feb 2022

Virgil van Dijk had the best reaction to Kepa’s shoot-out antics

Patrick McCarry


The mind games did not exactly go the Spaniard’s way.

With 90 seconds to play in League Cup Final extra-time, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel brought on substitute goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Having started Edouard Mendy for the final, the German rolled the dice on getting Kepa in for the upcoming penalty shoot-out. He had saved three shoot-out penalties on Chelsea’s path to the final, so it was a mix of mind games and a tactical hunch.

As it all played out, though, the Chelsea goalkeeper had another cup final to forget. Kepa conceded all 11 spot-kicks he faced, then missed the 22nd and final penalty of a high-quality shoot-out. Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher did not save any of the 11 penalties he faced, but did score what turned out to be the matchwinner, as Kepa blazed over, next up.

Kepa tried, on numerous occasions, to psyche out the Liverpool players before their kicks, but to no avail. Indeed, Virgil van Dijk had the best reaction to the 27-year-old taking an age to get on his line, and then standing off-centre to try throw him off.


Thomas Tuchel defends Kepa decision

With the scores tied at 2-2, van Dijk was not put off by the positioning of Kepa.

The Spanish goalkeeper did dive the right way but such was the power of the Dutch defender’s kick that it blazed right by him.

Van Dijk then turned back to share some choice words with the substitute, before turning and making a face. His reaction was replayed on the big screen, much to the amusement of the Liverpool fans at Wembley Stadium.

Following the game, Tuchel gave his reason for subbing Mendy off before the shoot-out. “We did it before with Kepa, he is slightly better in penalty saving and that is why I made the decision.

“It is unusual all 11 players need to shoot, he took it a bit too quick. Sometimes these things can turn against you but you make them when they need to be made, not after when people can judge you.”

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