Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel believes that referee Stuart Attwell made the correct decision by overruling the VAR assistant to deny Manchester United a penalty at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. The Blues played out a goalless draw to maintain Tuchel’s unbeaten start to life in west London and keep their hopes of Champions League qualification alive.
A closely-fought encounter saw both teams come within inches of sealing what would have been an important victory for either side.
Olivier Giroud narrowly missed out on finding the back of the net during the first half, with Callum Hudson-Odoi’s inviting cross slightly too far ahead of him, while United midfielder Fred came agonisingly close to picking out the top corner with just over 20 minutes remaining.
However, the main talking point came early on when the visitors were denied a penalty in the Premier League‘s latest controversial episode.
Hudson-Odoi appeared to handle the ball while battling Mason Greenwood for possession, with VAR assistant referee Chris Kavanagh advising Attwell to award a spot-kick.
After an on-field review, the man in the middle decided to ignore Kavanagh’s judgement and dismiss United’s claims.
In complete contrast to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was livid after the final whistle, Tuchel claimed that the Red Devils did not deserve a penalty and that Attwell’s final verdict was accurate.
The German boss suggested that the decision was obvious from the start, questioning the necessity of an on-field review.
Tuchel told Sky Sports: “How can this be a VAR intervention? The player in red plays the ball with the hand and then we are checking for a penalty? Why does the referee have to see this?
“I’ve seen it on the iPad, I don’t understand why the referee has to check it but I’m glad it was no penalty. That would make it even worse.”
The result leaves Chelsea occupying fifth place in the Premier League table, a single point behind fourth-placed West Ham United with 12 games remaining.
Offering his verdict on the performance, Tuchel praised his side for their strong defensive showing to keep a clean sheet against the division’s highest scorers.
The Blues have conceded just twice in the former PSG manager’s first seven matches at the helm, with their ability to shut out opponents a key trait that will need to be maintained between now and the end of the season if they are to achieve a top-four finish.
“It was a high quality game between two very strong teams,” said Tuchel. “We suffered in the first half but overall it was an even game. In the second half I thought we were really strong.
“I thought we were closer to winning it, but there was a lot of quality on the pitch. Performance-wise I’m satisfied. We defended very well in the last line and I’m very happy with that.
“We were not good enough in the first half to attack the spaces. To find the solution was not always easy and we lost a bit of confidence with some easy ball losses.
“We said at half-time not to worry. We changed to a 5-3-2 to have higher ball recoveries and to regain confidence, and the boys did that very well. We were very close to winning.
“We take what we got. I’m absolutely happy. Against a team like Man United you don’t get many chances.”