Substitute goalkeeper Kepa saved two penalties in the shoot-out to clinch the trophy for Thomas Tuchel's side in Belfast.
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Goalkeeper Kepa came off the bench and saved two penalties in the shoot-out to push Chelsea past Villarreal after Gerard Moreno had cancelled out Hakim Ziyech's goal in regulation time of the 2021 UEFA Super Cup.
27' Ziyech (Chelsea)
73' Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)
Match in brief
Having dispatched Atlético and Real Madrid on their way to UEFA Champions League glory last season, Chelsea were understandably confident and commanding in the early stages against another Spanish opponent. Sergio Asenjo's reflexes denied Timo Werner an early opener while N'Golo Kanté was at his meddling best as he robbed Gerard Moreno before firing just wide.
Thomas Tuchel's men did break through in the 27th minute, though, as Kai Havertz's cross was swept in by Ziyech, and Kurt Zouma should have increased the lead only to volley over. The Yellow Submarine offered more after falling behind, with Edouard Mendy thwarting Boulaye Dia and Alberto Moreno clattering the bar from a delicate cross by Gerard Moreno on the stroke of half-time.
Unai Emery's side had been unruffled by setbacks when staying composed to see off English outfits Arsenal and Manchester United in their final two UEFA Europa League assignments last term, and those characteristics served them well after the resumption in Belfast. Gerard Moreno shot against a post following Mendy's wayward goal-kick, but Villarreal pressed on and the striker was richly rewarded when he whipped Dia's back-heel across Mendy to force extra time.
Chelsea checked the Spanish team's momentum in the additional period and created the better chances as Christian Pulišić sliced wide and fellow substitute Mason Mount drew a smart stop from Asenjo. Intriguingly, they also replaced Mendy with Kepa in the dying seconds in readiness for the shoot-out, in which Havertz and Aïssa Mandi had early spot kicks saved.
Tuchel's gamble paid off eventually when Antonio Rüdiger made it 6-5 and Kepa parried Raúl Albiol's effort to give the Blues their second UEFA Super Cup.
Player of the Match: Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)
He scored the very important equaliser and was dangerous throughout the match, making runs behind the defence and creating goalscoring opportunities.
Mixu Paatelainen, UEFA Technical Observer
0-0 Havertz (Chelsea) ❌
0-1 Moreno (Villarreal) ✅
1-1 Azpilicueta (Chelsea) ✅
1-1 Mandi (Villarreal) ❌
2-1 Alonso (Chelsea) ✅
2-2 Estupiñán (Villarreal) ✅
3-2 Mount (Chelsea) ✅
3-3 Moi Gómez (Villarreal) ✅
4-3 Jorginho (Chelsea) ✅
4-4 Raba (Villarreal) ✅
5-4 Pulišić (Chelsea) ✅
5-5 Foyth (Villarreal) ✅
6-5 Rüdiger (Chelsea) ✅
6-5 Raúl Albiol (Villarreal) ❌
Graham Hunter, match reporter
What a corker of a final this was! A contest which echoed La Liga against Premier League sides in recent seasons. Top English teams, like the European champions now, universally play at a terrifically quick pace – but increasingly with first-class 'continental' technique and wit. Liga outfits still adore control, possession and craft. Thus this game tilted between hurricane Chelsea and methodical Villarreal. Superb entertainment, Chelsea lifting the trophy on penalties – but European football, fans and TV viewers, the overall winners.
Kepa, Chelsea goalkeeper: "It's not a typical situation. Edouard and the rest of the team did a fantastic job. It was a tough game against a very difficult team, but we have the medals. It's not a normal situation but I was ready, because I knew this could happen. I tried to be ready both physically and mentally."
Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea coach: "We were well-prepared. We had a statistic that Kepa is the best in terms of saving penalties. The analysts showed me the data and then we spoke with the players [explaining] that this can happen in knockout games. It's fantastic how Mendy accepts it. 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 and deserved to win."
Unai Emery, Villarreal coach: "It's an honour to represent this club, Villarreal and La Liga on a day like today. You cannot fault the players for anything because they've put in a fantastic effort."
Gerard Moreno, Villarreal striker: "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 favourites. For me, they're the best team in the world."
- Chelsea lift this trophy for the first time since 1998 and are the 11th team to win the competition on multiple occasions.
- The Champions League winners have won eight of the last nine UEFA Super Cups.
- Seven of the last nine UEFA Super Cups have gone to extra time, and two of the last three have ended in a shoot-out.
- English clubs now have nine UEFA Super Cup victories, level with Italy – Spain lead the way with 15.
- Villarreal failed to become the sixth Spanish club to claim the silverware.
- Ziyech's goal was his 13th in 60 UEFA club competition matches.
- Gerard Moreno has scored eight goals in his last nine appearances for Villarreal in European competition.
Chelsea: Mendy (Kepa 119); Zouma (Christensen 66), Chalobah, Rüdiger; Hudson-Odoi (Azpilicueta 82), Kanté (Jorginho 65), Kovačić, Alonso; Havertz, Ziyech (Pulišić 43); Werner (Mount 65)
Villarreal: Asenjo; Foyth, Albiol, Pau Torres, Pedraza (Estupiñán 58); Pino (Mandi 91), Trigueros (Moi Gómez 70), Capoue (Mario Gaspar 70), Alberto Moreno (Morlanes 85); Gerard Moreno, Dia (Raba 86)
Chelsea kick off their Premier League campaign at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday, while Villarreal have 48 hours more rest before their Liga opener against Granada.
Both sides will be involved in the UEFA Champions League group stage draw on 26 August – they cannot face each other until the knockouts as they are both seeded in Pot 1.
Meanwhile, the UEFA Super Cup heads to Helsinki, Finland in 2022.