The defender kept the ball away from his attacker in the build-up to the winning finish, and has freely admitted that it was a tactical gesture

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta has admitted that he intentionally took the ball away from Kai Havertz in order to play mind games on Palmeiras before the latters extra-time penalty sealed the FIFA Club World Cup for the Blues.

The Germany international struck from the spot in the 117th minute to crown Thomas Tuchels side world champions against their Brazilian opponents in Abu Dhabi.

Yet before Havertz struck, it appeared Azpilicueta was to take the spot kick, holding the ball while opposition players crowded him, before handing off to his team-mate.

“It was a tactic because I knew how they are,” Azpilicueta said following the victory at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium. “I knew they were coming for the penalty taker, so I took the ball.

“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.”

Having arrived at Stamford Bridge a decade ago, Azpilicueta has now claimed every major honour available to the Blues during his tenure, with Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup triumphs to go along with a Champions League success, two Europa Leagues and a Club World Cup medal.

The 32-year-old admitted that he could have never foreseen the journey he would embark upon when he first arrived in London from Marseille, let alone skippering them to several of their triumphs, adding: “When I arrived in 2012 I couldnt imagine the journey I would go on.

“Im really proud to be the Chelsea captain, leading the club on and off the pitch. This title feels very good because its the first time in our history. The club deserves it, the owner deserves it and Im proud we achieved it.”

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