Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri was left fuming over the bizarre situation in which Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to be substituted in extra-time of the League Cup final.
Manchester City won the League Cup on Sunday evening by beating Chelsea 4-3 on penalties following a goalless draw after extra time in Wembley, but the spectacle was almost overshadowed by a row between the Blues touchline staff and their goalkeeper.
Kepa Arrizabalaga appeared to be struggling with cramp in extra-time, and sub goalie Willy Caballero was being prepared to be brought in his place.
However, the Spaniard refused to be taken off as the game drew closer to full-time, sending Maurizio Sarri and his assistant Gianfranco Zola into a flying rage.
After a relatively lengthy deliberation between the Chelsea staff, the player and the officials, Kepa stayed on the pitch for the final minutes of the game and the penalty shootout, while Sarri continued to remonstrate angrily and even considered heading down the tunnel while the game was still being played.
Siri, out of all the football matches I’ve watched in my life: show me something I’ve never seen before. pic.twitter.com/wtDclA8IK6
— MUNDIAL (H) (@MundialMag) February 24, 2019
Sarri had to be calmed down after the final whistle by centre-back Antonio Rudiger, who held the manager back from going face-to-face his goalkeeper.
Kepa would end up saving one of Man City’s five penalties, keeping Leroy Sane from scoring, but it was not enough to win the shootout for the London outfit, who were ultimately beaten by a Raheem Sterling finish.
In his post-match interview with Sky Sports, Sarri called it a “big misunderstanding”, while captain Cesar Azpilicueta incredulously claimed he didn’t see what happened because he was “on the other side of the pitch”.
Twitter was in predictably fine form in the aftermath of the entire saga.
Usually think reactions to this sort of thing get a bit hyperbolic, but that's absolutely disgraceful from Kepa whether Chelsea win on penalties or not.
— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) February 24, 2019
That was astonishing from Kepa. I've never seen anything like that.
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) February 24, 2019
NEVER EVER seen that before. Player refuses to go OFF.
And gets away with it!!!
All the great work today. And Chelsea makes an embarrassment of themselves
— Jan Aage Fjortoft 🏳️🌈 🇳🇴 (@JanAageFjortoft) February 24, 2019
Win or lose, Sarri should just spark up a fag. He can afford the fine.
— John Brewin (@JohnBrewin_) February 24, 2019
Most flagrant disrespect of authority I've seen at Chelsea Football Club since medical professional Dr Eva Carneiro ignored medical advice from Jose Mourinho. Some nerve.
— Ronan Mullen (@RonanReigns) February 24, 2019
If a goalkeeper undermined Alex Ferguson like that, Ferguson would already be on the phone selling him.
— Paul Howard (@AkaPaulHoward) February 24, 2019
Said it before and will again, Kepa is a poor goalkeeper. More strength in my small toe that his wrists. But whatever about talent, attitude stinks. Anyone can talk, he can't crawl. Transfer ban or not, he and Hazard for all his brilliance are toxic. Better without. #CHEMCI
— Ewan MacKenna (@EwanMacKenna) February 24, 2019
Kepa is going to have to retire, isn’t he? Sarri is going to throw him down the Wembley balcony, like he’s New Jack
— Sam Diss (@SamDiss) February 24, 2019
— Will Parchman (@WillParchman) February 24, 2019
No dressing room comes close to the toxicity that exists at Chelsea. Kepa's attitude to Maurizio Sarri is unforgivable. If you're the boss, that's the moment you have to consider walking out.
— Colin Millar (@Millar_Colin) February 24, 2019
120 minutes of a decent gameplan from Sarri undermined by Kepa probably just wanting to stay on for his own competitive ego
— Nicó Morales (@Nico_OMorales) February 24, 2019
Wow. This is bonkers. Not sure I’ve ever seen a player refuse to be subbed. Extraordinary.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 24, 2019
Kepa not the first keeper to refuse to go off in a League Cup Final… pic.twitter.com/CmuOwkp90x
— Mark Ogden (@MarkOgden_) February 24, 2019