Chelsea loanee Kepa Arrizabalaga's hidden role in Real Madrid Champions League win vs Man City

Kepa Arrizabalaga of Real Madrid warms up during the LaLiga EA Sports match between CA Osasuna and Real Madrid CF at Estadio El Sadar on March 16, 2024 in Pamplona, Spain.
Kepa played hidden role in Real Madrid's shootout win vs Man City -Credit:(Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

Chelsea loanee Kepa Arrizabalaga played a hidden role in Real Madrid's penalty shootout victory over Manchester City, despite not being on the pitch. The 29-year-old Spaniard joined Los Blancos earlier this season as cover for first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury back in August.

Despite a series of shaky performances that saw third-choice goalkeeper Andriy Lunin step into the spotlight, Kepa still had a part to play in the team's success.

Davide Ancelotti, assistant coach and son of Real manager Carlo, revealed that Kepa helped fine-tune the 14-time European champions' penalty taker line-up towards the end of extra-time. In the moments leading up to the spot-kicks at the Etihad Stadium, Kepa was seen offering advice to Lunin, reports the Mirror.

The Chelsea loanee has previous experience with City in a shootout. The former Athletic Bilbao shot-stopper famously refused to be substituted for Chelsea before facing Pep Guardiola's side from the spot in the 2019 Carabao Cup final. Although he saved a shot from Leroy Sane, his team ultimately lost the match.

Lunin shone in the limelight on Wednesday, pulling off impressive saves against Mateo Kovacic and Bernardo Silva. The latter's penalty was aimed straight down the middle, but Lunin, showing remarkable bravery, held his ground and thwarted the shot.

Speaking to Movistar Plus+, Lunin shared his strategy: "I needed to take a risk with one of the kicks, we picked one (to stay in the middle) and thank goodness it worked out in our favour.

READ MORE: Pep Guardiola's four-word Man City confession proves Mauricio Pochettino Chelsea claim right

READ MORE: Andrey Santos impact, Ian Maatsen dig, Hakim Ziyech goal and key Kepa role - Chelsea loan latest

"It's an away Champions League game and we went through a lot of suffering... but I'm very grateful to the team for everything they've fought for. I can't imagine myself running like my team mates did today."

He continued: "There are games that you have to suffer, that you have to overcome the challenges, that you can't always play with the ball and be the best team on the pitch. Tonight was like that."

Lunin also touched on his personal experience: "For me it has been a great experience. I'm exhausted, it's the first time in my career that I play a game like this, 120 minutes, penalties, the pressure and the responsibility. It's hard to explain the feeling."