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blues trophy Thomas Tuchel explains keeper change as Chelsea lift UEFA Super Cup in Belfast

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Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea lifts the UEFA Super Cup Trophy following victory in the UEFA Super Cup 2021 match between Chelsea and Villarreal. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea lifts the UEFA Super Cup Trophy following victory in the UEFA Super Cup 2021 match between Chelsea and Villarreal. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea lifts the UEFA Super Cup Trophy following victory in the UEFA Super Cup 2021 match between Chelsea and Villarreal. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel insisted the decision to change goalkeepers if the UEFA Super Cup game against Villarreal went to penalties was made long before his side's dramatic win in Belfast.

Kepa Arrizabalaga came off the bench to save two penalties and earn Chelsea Super League success in a shoot-out victory over Villarreal.

Thomas Tuchel made the call to replace Edouard Mendy in the closing stages of the 1-1 draw – with Kepa then providing the heroics.

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Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea prepares to replace teammate Edouard Mendy (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea prepares to replace teammate Edouard Mendy (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea prepares to replace teammate Edouard Mendy (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Kai Havertz missed the first spot-kick but after that Chelsea were perfect while both Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol both saw their penalties saved as Chelsea won the shoot-out 6-5.

Mendy seemed content with a decision he was fully aware of before the match, with Tuchel confirming it was a tactical switch made purely on statistical data.

"It was not spontaneous," said Tuchel of the keeper change. "We talked about it with the goalkeepers after the first FA Cup game against Barnsley last January. We had some statistics. We were well prepared.

"Kepa has the best percentage at saving penalties, the analysing guys and goalkeeping coaches showed me the data. We spoke to the players that this could happen when we play in knockout games. It's fantastic how Edouard accepted it.

"There is proof that Kepa is better in this discipline. They're team players. Edouard does not show the pride to not step off the field. He was happy to do it for the team and take this for the team.

"We have quality support in the structure and organisation. This is one of the good examples. The analysis department came up with this statistic that Willy Caballero is the best at saving penalties, Kepa the second and Edou third.

"So we spoke to all three goalkeepers and we said when we have a situation like this, and we have a change left, that we take this change. Not for personal reasons but to improve the chances because we had proof of the statistic. The three of them accepted that in a fantastic manner and said it's no problem.

"Edou puts his ego aside and he is aware about why we take the decision, it's not a sudden idea, and I am absolutely happy that the team is first and Edou was the first one to take it for the team. You still need luck but everybody know why we are doing this."

This was another example of clear and decisive planning from Tuchel, as he added the Super Cup to the Champions League crown he won with Chelsea in last season's final against Manchester City.

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"I'm happy because we won. I knew since last year that if Kepa came on the pitch he would help the team," said Mendy.

"It's a team effort. We play for Chelsea and for success. We did this today together."

Tuchel went on to suggest the extra time was the last thing his side needed ahead of their Premier League opener against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

By then, Chelsea are expected to have completed the signing of Romelu Lukaku in a €115m deal with Inter Milan, with the club facing a race against time to register the Belgian striker to ensure he is available for this weekend.

Lukaku is now in the UK to complete the move and is expected to be at Chelsea's training base on Thursday.

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