In extraordinary scenes, Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga undermined his manager Maurizio Sarri by refusing to be substituted as Chelsea were beaten in the Carabao Cup final.
With the score tied at 0-0 in the game against Manchester City, Chelsea boss Sarri wanted to replace the apparently injured goalkeeper with Willy Caballero in the closing minutes of extra time at Wembley.
But the Spaniard stayed on the field despite his number being shown on the board. Under-pressure Sarri reacted with fury as as the game ended goalless after 120 minutes.
😳 – Have you EVER seen anything like it!?
Maurizio Sarri tries to substitute Kepa Arrizabalaga for Willy Caballero, but Kepa refuses to come off and Sarri is absolutely FURIOUS! 😡 pic.twitter.com/Q81v6ry3Kk
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) February 24, 2019
People couldn’t believe what they were seeing …
Wow. This is bonkers. Not sure I’ve ever seen a player refuse to be subbed. Extraordinary.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 24, 2019
— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) February 24, 2019
Arrizabalaga just walked across at full-time and shook Caballero’s hand. Mutinous act by the No 1 towards Sarri, refusing to come off when his coach demanded. You have to feel for Caballero. Plenty of pressure on Arrizabalaga in the shootout now.
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) February 24, 2019
Chelsea eventually lost 4-3 on penalties.
Kepa redeemed himself slightly by saving a spot-kick from Leroy Sane but with Ederson denying Jorginho and David Luiz hitting a post, City claimed victory and the first leg of a potential quadruple.
But there was only one real talking point …
Is the Kepa thing a bigger scandal than those screen-printed, Times New Roman bomber jackets City are wearing?
— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) February 24, 2019
Feel for Kepa. Takes over as Chelsea manager and almost immediately loses his first game in charge…
— Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey) February 24, 2019
Sarri, like Theresa May in the Cabinet, has lost the convention of collective responsibility at Chelsea
— Sunder Katwala (@sundersays) February 24, 2019
— Hannah Jane Parkinson (@ladyhaja) February 24, 2019
Sarri later played down the incident with Kepa as a ‘misunderstanding’ and said his goalkeeper would not face any disciplinary action.
“In that situation there was a big misunderstanding caused by the radio,” he told Sky Sports.
“I understood there was a problem and we needed a change. I didn’t find out until the doctor arrived to the bench after a few minutes.
“It was a big misunderstanding. I understood the goalkeeper had cramp and for me he was unable to go to penalties but the problem was not cramp so he was able to go to penalties.”
Asked why he began to walk away down the tunnel before turning around, Sarri added: “I needed only to return to be quiet.
“I think as I say, the goalkeeper understood that I asked for a change for his physical problem. He said, ‘I haven’t got a physical problem’, so he was right I think.”
Asked if Kepa was guilty of ignoring instructions, Sarri said: “I have to talk with him but only to clarify because now I have understood very well the situation.”