Joe Cole "surprised" by Kepa Arrizabalaga’s start in 3-3 draw with Zenit

Joe Cole was left surprised by Thomas Tuchel's starting XI to take on Zenit in the Champions League on Wednesday evening – but later admitted that the decision was justified.

The former Chelsea midfielder watched on as his former side gave up a hard-fought late lead which saw Juventus beat them to top spot in the group on the final match day.

Timo Werner had given Chelsea the lead from close range after just two minutes, with Romelu Lukaku equalising in the second half after goals from Claudinho and Sardar Azmoun.

The German thought he had won it for the visitors with a fine effort in the 85th minute, but Magomed Ozdoyev fired home from outside the area four minutes into stoppage time.

Tuchel had named eight changes while hoping that they would still have enough to take all three points, but the absence of Edouard Mendy did come as a shock to some.

Mendy gave away a penalty and was caught out from long-range in Chelsea's defeat against West Ham on Saturday that saw them vacate top spot in the Premier League.

Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has struggled since moving to Stamford Bridge from Athletic Bilbao back in 2018, impressed on the night despite conceding three goals.

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Cole had said before the match: "I'm surprised. It's the first time Mendy's made mistakes at the weekend. When you have a bad game, you want to have the next game to get it out of your system.

"But Mendy will miss games when he's at the African Cup of Nations, so Kepa needs game time too. It's an interesting one, he's had to balance it up.

"There's no doubt Kepa's a top goalkeeper – there's talent there. Since he's been second choice, when he's come in he's been fantastic."

With fellow pundit Peter Crouch adding: "Tuchel's made a gamble with his team selection. He's obviously putting more emphasis on the game against Leeds at the weekend with that team."

However, Cole was more than happy to go back on that view following the match, with Kepa making a string of impressive saves as he looks to push Mendy for a Premier League starting role.

Cole said: "Kepa was outstanding in goal. Chelsea were unlucky not to win."

With Crouch adding: "I thought Zenit carved out a lot of chances and Kepa kept them in it at times."

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