Kepa sub for Mendy backfires as Spaniard blasts penalty over in Chelsea shootout loss vs Liverpool in Carabao Cup final

Kepa Arrizabalaga replaced Edouard Mendy for Chelsea just ahead of the end of extra-time in Sunday's Carabao Cup final against Liverpool, but the decision backfired as the Blues fell when Kepa blasted his penalty over after an extraordinary 22-kick shootout.

Thomas Tuchel opted to put penalty specialist Kepa in the match in the 119th minute of a scoreless game, despite Mendy putting in an heroic performance throughout the match.

But Liverpool would score all 11 of their penalties in the shootout, including a final conversion by goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, while Kepa blasted over the bar to hand the trophy to the Reds.

Why did Tuchel put Kepa in?

Tuchel had previously made a similar move in August's UEFA Super Cup against Villarreal, with Kepa saving a pair of penalties to help Chelsea win the match.

Though Kepa has lost his starting role to Mendy, the Spaniard has become a penalty specialist for the Blues, breaking Petr Cech's record last fall with his seventh career shootout save for the Blues.

But Kepa was unable to save a single penalty by the Reds at Wembley, including what turned out to be the winning kick by back-up keeper Kelleher.

Tuchel explains decision

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Tuchel said: "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."

Speaking in his press conference, Tuchel added: "It is [harsh] and we feel bad for him, but no blame. We took the decision like we did last time in a penalty shootout because Kepa is training with the players [for penalties] on a daily basis and they know how good he is. He has simply more time on the training ground to do this than Edou, who plays a lot more.

"Everyone knows how good he is, how difficult it is to shoot [against him] and this plays a huge part in how we shot today. Unfortunately, he couldn't make a save – their penalties were brilliantly taken – and it was a bit harsh on him that he was the guy to miss the one and only penalty, but there is no blame."

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