European champions Chelsea won the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday night thanks to their victory over Europa League holders Villarreal on penalties in Belfast.
Thomas Tuchel’s side took the lead in the first half when Hakim Ziyech swept in from close range. The Morocco international later went off injured with a suspected shoulder injury before Villarreal piled on the pressure.
The La Liga side struck the woodwork before equalising with 20 minutes to go as Gerard Moreno fired into the top corner. The sides couldn’t be separated in the 90 minutes and extra time was needed, though no winner was found in the extra half hour.
Penalties ensued and while Kai Havertz and Aissa Mandi both missed their kicks in the early stages of the shootout, the efforts afterwards were perfect until substitute goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga saved from Raul Albiol.
The decision to bring Edouard Mendy off for Kepa raised eyebrows, but he eventually came up trumps to help the Blues win the Super Cup for the second time – their first coming in 1998 when they beat Real Madrid.
The victory gives Thomas Tuchel his second piece of silverware as Chelsea manager following their Champions League triumph at the end of last season. They also reached the final of the FA Cup, though were beaten by Leicester.
The Blues are among the favourites for the Premier League title alongside Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool. Should they secure the signing of Romelu Lukaku from Inter, they would be among the most feared teams in Europe.