Thomas Tuchel jumped to the defence of Romelu Lukaku after the Belgian striker failed to prevent Chelsea from being defeated by Manchester City on Saturday afternoon. Gabriel Jesus scored the game’s only goal shortly after the interval to hand the visitors all three points at Stamford Bridge.
City were dominant from the first whistle and enjoyed the lion’s share of both possession and chances throughout the encounter.
Chelsea defended well for the most part but struggled to get out of their own half during the first 45 minutes, with City’s relentless pressing game causing them plenty of issues.
The decisive goal came in the 53rd minute when Jesus twisted and turned inside the box to find space before firing the ball past Edouard Mendy and into the back of the net.
The hosts upped the tempo as the clock ticked down, with the introduction of Kai Havertz helping them to carve out a greater number of opportunities in front of goal.
However, Chelsea were unable to find the elusive leveller and ended up falling to their first Premier League defeat of the new campaign.
Lukaku often found himself isolated up top alongside Timo Werner and struggled to get into the game despite scoring three goals in his previous four matches.
He tucked the ball home in the second half after he was played in by Havertz, but the goal was promptly ruled out for offside.
Tuchel was reluctant to criticise Lukaku after the final whistle in west London, with the Chelsea boss insisting that his muted showing was not responsible for the disappointing result.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to talk about Romelu’s struggle today,” said the 48-year-old.
“When we reached Romelu, the attack was already half over as there was not enough people, not enough belief and connection.
“So this was a team problem, not an individual problem.”
Lukaku only registered 21 touches on Saturday afternoon, with Chelsea struggling to make any sort of progress with the ball for large parts of the match.
Former Blues and England midfielder Joe Cole declared that he was surprised by the sub-par performance of the European champions, who slipped to third in the Premier League table as a result of their defeat.
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“Manchester City were exceptional today, they started the game in Chelsea’s faces,” Cole told BT Sport.
“They were so good, Bernardo Silva was outstanding, Ruben Dias at the back, Cancelo, all of them to a man. Incredible.
“I’ve not seen a Chelsea side under Thomas Tuchel look as disjointed as they did today. It’s not back to the drawing board but it’s one bad performance.
“We have to give credit to Man City, that’s a real champion’s performance.”