Maurizio Sarri sought to play down an extraordinary incident involving Kepa Arrizabalaga during the Carabao Cup final at Wembley.
Chelsea lost to Manchester City on penalties after keeper Kepa had refused to go off when under-pressure head coach Sarri tried to replace him with a couple of minutes of extra time remaining.
Kepa, who has been nursing a hamstring problem, appeared to be struggling so Sarri had Willy Caballero ready to come on.
Despite his boss’ protestations on the touchline, Kepa would not leave the pitch.
Sarri was clearly furious – but he insisted after the game that the incident was “a big misunderstanding” and that Kepa was simply making it clear he was fit to continue.
“I misunderstood the problem and only realised the situation when the doctor arrived at the bench,” Sarri added.
“He understood I asked for a change for his physical problem. He said, ‘I haven’t a physical problem’ and he was right.”
“Kepa was right but (behaved) in the wrong way, I think. I was really angry but then I realised everything when the doctor arrived.
“I think Kepa had cramp but then the doctor explained to me that it wasn’t cramp.”
Chelsea, recently thrashed 6-0 by City, this time defended very well and then dominated large parts of the second half.
“We conceded nothing against the best team in Europe,” said Sarri.
“My feeling is that we are improving. I am really very happy with the performance.”