Madrid, April 13 (IANS) Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel acknowledged his players put in a mighty effort in Madrid to try to keep their dream of retaining the Champions League alive, even if he had some regrets over the fine margins that ultimately cost the team a place in the semifinal.
Real Madrid qualified for the semifinals of the Champions League despite having one foot out of the door after a brave Chelsea fightback in the second leg of their quarterfinal on Tuesday night.
Chelsea led 3-0 on the night and were 10 minutes away from going through after losing the first leg 3-1 before Rodrygo took the game into extra-time where Karim Benzema scored the goal that took Real Madrid through on a dramatic night in the Santiago Bernabeu.
“We are very disappointed and very proud at the same time,” Tuchel said.
“We played a fantastic match. We deserved what we had. We scored four goals, we had big chances to score more. We were unlucky. We got beaten by pure individual quality and offensive conversion. We had two mistakes after ball wins, the most crucial moments in games against Real Madrid. We deserved to go through after this performance, but it was not meant to be. You need luck in games like this and it was not on our side,” he said.
“The players lived up to the plan in a very different way than we did against Brentford and in the first leg. We were never shy of making the point that the most important thing is how we live up to a tactic, and how lively we play in a structure. It was to the full limit tonight. The credit goes to the players,” coach told Chelsea official website.
The reigning champions’ second goal came four minutes into the second half when Antonio Rudiger climbed highest to head Mount’s corner beyond Courtois’ reach to level the tie. Real Madrid had done little in attack, but just after the goal, Reece James made a timely challenge to block Karim Benzema.
“We were very disciplined on the ball, and very active off the ball. We showed a lot of courage, and from there we showed the quality. It was the right way to do it. I am very happy. This is the way to go forward. If we have this kind of effort we are a special team, and if not we can lose against anybody. They showed a lot of character. We can be very proud,” he said.
When asked for his thoughts on Marcos Alonso’s disallowed goal, Tuchel said, “I did not see the goal but I told the referee I was super disappointed he did not check it on his own. In a match like this where you have a certain line to whistle, you should stay the boss, and not give any decisions like this to somebody in a chair who is isolated from the atmosphere and the referee’s certain style. He should stay in charge and check on his own, then he could explain it better. It’s just my opinion.”