Photo: Getty Images
Belfast: Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel was quite happy as his team started the new season with silverware. Chelsea, the Champions League winners, defeated Spanish club Villarreal, who won the UEFA Europa League, in a penalty shoot-out early on Thursday to win the UEFA Super Cup.
The two teams were level 1-1 after Hakim Ziyech's 27th-minute goal was cancelled out by Villarreal's Gerard Moreno in the 73rd minute, taking the match into extra time.
They remained deadlock 1-1 at the end of extra-time and penalty shootout was resorted to and Chelsea emerged winner 6-5 at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast
Substitute goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was the hero as he affected two saves off Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol as Chelsea started the new season as they had ended the previous one -- by winning a European title. If it was the Champions League triumph that lifted their spirits in a season marred by the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the Super Cup title augurs well as the Premier League season starts this weekend.
Chelsea's victory over English rivals Manchester City in the Champions League Final had cemented Tuchel's position at the Blues, the Super Cup win further boosted his stature at the club notorious for sacking coaches by its Russian owner.
Tuchel was understandably happy with the outcome of the Super Cup encounter.
"It was tough. We were very strong in the first 30 minutes. Then we lost a bit of pace after our goal. Their equaliser was well-deserved. We invested more until the 120th minute. We deserved to win," Tuchel was quoted as saying by UEFA after the match.
While the players were excited at starting the season with silverware, there was some gloom in the club too over the injury to Hakim Zlyech, who had put Chelsea ahead off a pass by Kai Havertz and has been in great form in the last few months.
The Moroccan was forced off the field before half-time with a shoulder injury.
It was also a disappointing outing for Spanish club Villarreal as they were on a high after beating Manchester United in the Europa League final. They could not claim their second trophy at the European level as Kepa starred in the penalties.
"It wasn't meant to be for us, but today is a day to be proud. Proud of the team, of the fans, of what the club is, of what the people are. [We're] now competing with the best. Chelsea were the favo'rites. For me, they're the best team in the world," said Gerard Moreno, Villarreal goalscorer and Player of the Match.