Chelsea defender Azpilicueta pulled a bait-and-switch on Palmeiras before Kai Havertz put away the match-winning penalty against Palmeiras in the Club World Cup final
Cesar Azpilicueta has explained how his quick thinking took any gamesmanship sting out of Kai Havertz’s Club World Cup-winning penalty.
Germany forward Havertz kept his cool to bury the last-gasp spot-kick in Abu Dhabi as Chelsea beat Palmeiras 2-1 after extra-time to lift their maiden Club World Cup crown.
Chelsea captain Azpilicueta immediately seized the ball on the award of the Blues’ penalty, however, appearing set to take the spot-kick himself.
But the 32-year-old Spain defender has now revealed it was all a ruse, designed to draw any Palmeiras antics to him and keep the pressure off Havertz.
The plan worked perfectly, allowing Havertz to stay calm and focused to deliver the strike that sealed Chelsea’s full house of top club trophies.
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“It was a tactic because I knew how they are, I knew they were coming for the penalty taker, so I took the ball,” Azpilicueta told Chelsea’s website.
“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 have now won every top honor possible in club football under Roman Abramovich’s stewardship.
And Azpilicueta has become the only Blues player to taste success in each of those competitions.
The Stamford Bridge skipper has lifted the Premier League, Europa League and Champions League all twice, with victories also coming in the FA Cup, League Cup, European Super Cup – and now Club World Cup.
“I’m really proud of it,” said Azpilicueta of an individual achievement unique at Chelsea.
“We have come a long way to be here. It’s a moment to be proud and enjoy it because we know how difficult it is to win this trophy.
“When we lost in 2012 it hurt a lot and we took more than nine years to be back. We missed out in 2012 and we didn’t want to miss the cup again.
“This time the medal is gold, and the other one is silver. I made sure I wasn’t coming back with the same color of medal. It was a difficult game. World champions, it’s not easy. We showed the team we are.
“When I arrived in 2012 I couldn’t imagine the journey I would go on.
“I’m really proud to be the Chelsea captain leading the club on and off the pitch.
“The club deserves it, the owner deserves it, and I’m proud we achieved it.”