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Thomas Tuchel criticises Chelsea display as Champions League holders throw away top spot


The German coach felt his side stopped doing the basics after taking the lead (Picture: Getty)

Thomas Tuchel has criticised his Chelsea side after they conceded a stoppage-time equaliser against Zenit Saint-Petersburg to hand top spot in their Champions League group to Juventus.

The Blues went into the final group match needing to match Juve’s result in order to be seeded in the draw for the last 16 and got off to the ideal start as Timo Werner netted inside the first two minutes.

But Zenit fought back and netted twice to take a first-half lead, with Tuchel making a host of changes as he tried to get his side back into the match – which is exactly what they did.

Werner played a neat one-two before giving Romelu Lukaku an open goal to level the scores and then bagged his second of the night with a tidy finish to put Chelsea back ahead with just a few minutes remaining.

But in the 94th minute Magomed Ozdoyev fired in a superb equaliser to seal a 3-3 draw and bump Chelsea back down into second place, which means they now have a 75% chance of facing either Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Ajax in the last 16.

Tuchel was livid with the manner of his side’s performance and felt the team became far too complacent after taking the lead, which has become a recurring theme this season.

‘I think that we had a very good first 15 minutes and then we stopped doing the things we did in the first 15 minutes,’ explained the German at his post-match press conference.

‘In the feeling, and this is my opinion, that this is okay what we are doing, that we are in charge, that we are the better team, but we are forgetting why we are the better team: because of the investment, the level of concentration, the level of physical investment was high enough to be the better team.

Werner put Chelsea ahead twice in Russia on Wednesday (Picture: Getty)

‘And once this drops 5% or 10% – and it does – and once we start managing results and changing our behaviour from what the score is, we get punished at the moment. It happened to us in West Ham, it happened to us today.

‘The reaction was again good, that shows me that it is not about what we can do – because we can step up and show a reaction when we concede goals – but once we have the lead we give it away again, like also today.

‘So the last six minutes we start playing balls back, we start not attacking in the same aggression and in the same hunger as before, and we got immediately punished now twice. It is for me about the level of investment, we have to do the things no matter what’s on the scoresheet.’

Tuchel continued: ‘My analysis is very clear: our behaviour changes when we have a lead and this is something we’ve never done and should never do.

Zenit’s late goal has given Chelsea a tough last-16 draw (Picture: Getty)

‘Because we do the things we want to do at the highest level and we push ourselves and it hurts and it has to hurt and you have to be tired at half-time, and fully tired, and you have to play through pain, physical pain, and you have to raise your level of concentration and you have to overcome adversity. If you change your behaviour because of the score you allow the possibility to get punished.

‘The challenge is to close the door and minimise the possibility. And it’s very easy: we need a higher level of sprints, runs, intensity, concentration. It’s as easy as that, it’s the basics. The basics need to be pushed onto a higher level while we are in the lead. They cannot drop just because we are in the lead and this is what is happening right now to us.’


MORE :
Who can Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City face in Champions League last 16?


MORE : ‘It really upsets the team’ – Joe Cole laments two key Chelsea decisions that backfired on Thomas Tuchel against Zenit

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