Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta acted as if he was going to take the penalty, absorbed all of the pressure from the Palmeiras players and then handed the ball to Kai Havertz to score the winning goal for the Blues to lift Club World Cup on Saturday.
When Chelsea were awarded their late penalty, the defender took control of the situation. He picked up the ball, he made eye-contact with Kai Havertz and he drew every ounce of pressure from the Palmeiras defenders.
“It was a tactic because I knew how they are, I knew they were coming for the penalty taker, so I took the ball,” said Azpilicueta.
“Kai knew that he was going to shoot so it was to release the pressure from him. It was a decisive moment and Kai is one of the best penalty takers.
“I waited and listened to everything their players told me, and I think it worked which is the most important thing.”
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that Mason Mount came off in the Club World Cup final Palmeiras win with a ‘stiff’ and ‘painful’ injury amid serious concerns for the upcoming games.
Mount, 23, was selected for the final after only coming on against Al Hilal in the previous round from the bench as Thomas Tuchel and his coaching team looked to manage his minutes smartly, knowing he picked up a knock last weekend in the FA Cup against Plymouth.
“He was injured. It was in one of the first actions, he had a run at the back post with Azpilicueta. They fell and his opponent fell on his ankle and he hurt his ligaments badly.
“So we have to see. It’s an injury,” Tuchel clarified in his post-match press conference.
Chelsea legend Didier Drogba has piled praise on Romelu Lukaku after the striker helped the Blues to their first FIFA Club World Cup title on Saturday.
After a nervy first half, Lukaku broke the deadline, heading home smartly from a Callum Hudson-Odoi cross, only for Raphael Veiga to level from the spot nine minutes later.
In an interview with The Athletic after the match, Drogba was eager to praise Lukaku’s opening goal, delivering an emphatic four-word verdict on the moment.
“I love this goal! I love this goal!” he said.
“Romelu gave us the opening, the chance to take the lead in this game, to bring more confidence. It was not an easy team to play against.”
Lukaku has not had the easiest spell of late. The 28-year-old had been misfiring heading into the Club World Cup and, added to an ill-judged interview with Sky Italia, his stock has dropped significantly among supporters.
But the context of his latest goal only makes it more joyful a moment according to Drogba.
“I’m even more happy because of all he has been through the last few weeks,” he added.
“He is responding well. The best way to answer is to score goals and to win trophies. That’s what he did.”
Roma star Tammy Abraham has revealed the reason why he decided to leave Chelsea for the Italian shores.
The Englishman said he had the desire to explore a new league and ingratiate himself into a new culture which, in turn, proved pivotal in his move to the eternal city.
In an interview with Pro:Direct Soccer on Youtube, the 24-year-old opened up on his Chelsea exit.
He said: “I got to the point that I needed to leave and explore.
“All I knew was Chelsea. It’s nice to explore, learn a different culture, and a different language. It’s different, but I am enjoying it.”
For the striker, enjoying life away from the constant scrutiny inherent in any discussion about Premier League players was needed to rediscover his style and build his confidence.
Abraham has, thus far, claimed 20 G/A’s in just under 2000 minute of league and cup football this season. As Chelsea’s attack is still yet to find a consistent run of form, the sale of Tammy Abraham looks even more questionable.