Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel feared Kurt Zouma had conceded a late penalty minutes before Marcos Alonso bagged a huge three points at Manchester City.
The Blues came from behind to win 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium, sealing all three points in stoppage time after Alonso scuffed his effort beyond a helpless Ederson in City’s goal.
Tuchel’s side had fallen behind to a Raheem Sterling goal and could have been two down at the break had Sergio Aguero not fluffed an attempted Panenka penalty straight into the hands of Edouard Mendy.
After Hakim Ziyech drew Chelsea level, it looked like Zouma may have given away another penalty after bundling into the back of Sterling. But referee Anthony Taylor was unmoved and VAR opted against advising a change of decision – as a clear and obvious error had not been made.
Chelsea would go on to profit through Alonso’s winner, further strengthening the club’s hopes of finishing in the top four. After the game, Tuchel admitted that Zouma’s clumsy tackle had left him worried, and also addressed the club’s outstanding run of form and all-around performance.
*quotes courtesy of Chelsea’s official website.
“I am aware you need a bit of luck in any match of football, and we had it on our side in the second half,’ he said about the Zouma challenge.
“I only saw it live, and I was in fear he would give it.
“The first one [against Billy Gilmour] was a 50/50 which maybe wasn’t worth overturning by VAR, but if he hadn’t given it live it wouldn’t have been worth overruling. It was a pretty tough one to take. Second one I didn’t see, but I also heard Raheem Sterling was lucky to be on the field because he had a huge foul against Timo Werner.”
“We were lucky it did not take too much to come back and stay in the match, because we were lucky not to be 2-0 down.
‘It was not a tactical problem or a big drama in the first half, it was three or four minutes, one situation where Andreas slipped and we conceded. That can happen. Then suddenly we were one man down and in this moment we lost a little bit the structure and concede a very harsh decision.
“Could we have lost the game in these four minutes? Yes. Would it have been deserved? No. I am very happy Mendy kept us in the game.”
“At half-time we said let’s continue like it is 0-0 and not lose our heads because of the last three minutes. From there we could go and step up and try and play with courage, have more possession and more possession in their half. This is what the guys did.
“The momentum changed completely with the goal. I could feel everybody were growing in confidence. We played with more and more quality and pressure. We never stopped attacking.
“It’s a huge win, a big reaction and a fantastic team performance in the second half in the context we had one less day to recover, it was away, and we had a big win against Real Madrid. That had a huge impact mentally so that was a fantastic reaction from the boys.’
“It’s best to have consecutive good performances that lead to results. Everyone in the dressing room is super tired. Everybody out there gave his last drop of intensity and work-rate. These experiences and these big games are what you need to really strengthen your bond.
“The group and the players do everything to force the luck on our side, and we caught the momentum to have another big win. It increases our self-confidence in a natural and healthy way, because everybody knows we have to restart on Wednesday.”