Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri says the incident involving goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Carabao Cup final was a “misunderstanding”.
The club record £71m signing appeared to defy the Italian’s attempt to substitute him in extra time before Manchester City won on penalties.
Sarri appeared furious and walked down the tunnel before quickly returning.
“I misunderstood the problem and only realised the situation when the doctor arrived at the bench,” he said.
“He understood I asked for a change for his physical problem. He said: ‘I haven’t a physical problem.’ And he was right.”
Kepa later echoed his manager’s words and insisted the incident was caused by “confusion”.
“It was misunderstood. In no moment was it my intention to disobey or anything like that with the boss,” said the 24-year-old Spaniard.
“It was two or three minutes of confusion until the medics got to the bench and they explained everything well.
“He thought I couldn’t continue, and – fundamentally – I was trying to say that physically I was fine.”
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Kepa initially went down with cramp – prompting the Chelsea bench to ready reserve goalkeeper Willy Caballero.
Sarri was visibly angry as his goalkeeper refused to follow orders from the touchline but eventually conceded following a conversation with referee Jonathan Moss.
“I realised after, when the doctor arrived. I have talked to him [Moss] but only to clarify because now I have understood the situation,” added the Italian manager.
“It was a big misunderstanding because I understood the keeper had cramp and was unable to go to penalties. But it was not cramp and he could go to the penalties.
“I needed to return [down the tunnel] to be quiet.”
‘Sarri protecting players’
Speaking to Sky Sports, former Chelsea captain John Terry said he believed Sarri’s “misunderstanding” explanation was a decision taken to protect his goalkeeper.
“Whether that has been dealt with inside the dressing room, I don’t know,” said Terry.
“Publicly, that’s his approach. He’s protecting his player.”
Ex-Napoli manager Sarri has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks, following a 6-0 defeat to Manchester City in the Premier League and an FA Cup exit at the hands of Manchester United.
Yet despite doubts over his future, the Blues produced a resolute performance in Sunday’s final as the 60-year-old demonstrated a back-up plan to his ‘Sarri-ball’ philosophy.
“I am very happy and in the last three matches we are improving and have improved a lot,” said Sarri.
“Today showed everyone we could be a very solid team because we conceded nothing to the opponents, and to Manchester City that is not easy.
“I am proud of the players. I think the club would be proud of that performance too, because the performance was very good against, in my opinion, the best club in Europe.”