Kepa performance hailed by Chelsea assistant: ‘We are lucky to have him’

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Chelsea assistant coach Zsolt Low paid tribute to Kepa Arrizabalaga after his impressive display in the Club World Cup semi-final victory over Al-Hilal.

The 2020-21 Champions League winners advanced to the final of the competition, where they will face Palmeiras after scraping past the Asian champions 1-0.

Romelu Lukaku’s attack in the 32nd minute decided the match at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, but it was a generally flawed display by Chelsea.

After controlling major periods of the first half with 61.9 percent of possession, the Blues recorded only 45.4 percent after the break and had to rely on important saves from Kepa to keep Al-Hilal in check.

The Spanish national team player, who got a nod in front of Edouard Mendy after the latter’s return from his Africa Cup of Nations triumph with Senegal, denied Plymouth Argyles Ryan Hardie the penalty spot in the narrow FA Cup victory on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the choice of his saves against Al-Hilal four days later caused him to refuse Mohamed Kanno brilliantly.

And Low, who monitored Chelsea in Thomas Tuchel’s absence after a positive COVID-19 test, highlighted his goalkeeper’s performance.

“[Kepa’s] very important, “he said.” In the trophy he made a great achievement to save the penalty kick.

“Today, when we needed him, he was there and made a great rescue.

“He is in very good shape; he plays and trains well. We’m lucky to have him.

“In the next few days, we have to decide who is going to play the final.

“We await Thomas’ opinion and the goalkeeping coaches before we make the decision for the final.”

Low also clapped for Lukaku, who scored his first goal since the 5-1 win over Chesterfield in the FA on 8 January.

Apart from his attack, however, the Belgian national team player registered only one shot on goal – straight at the goalkeeper – and was taken offside on three occasions.

Nevertheless, Low insisted he was happy with the striker’s efforts.

“Everyone is very happy that he scored,” he added.

“He fought very hard and tried hard in the last fight; that was why we gave him the chance.

“We were hoping for some luck to score today. He is very happy, we are very happy and hope he continues and scores in the final.”





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