Thomas Tuchel hailed the attitude of Antonio Rudiger after the centre-back won two penalties, including what would be a 94th-minute winner as Chelsea overcame Leeds United 3-2.
A rollercoaster of a contest on Saturday saw Leeds go ahead via a penalty of their own at Stamford Bridge, dispatched by Raphinha.
Mason Mount equalised before half-time and then Rudiger found himself in the penalty box just before the hour mark, where he was adjudged to have been fouled by Raphinha, with Jorginho making no mistake from the spot.
Teenager Joe Gelhardt thought he had snatched a point for his team after emerging from the bench to turn home seven minutes from the end, but Rudiger was once again on the end of a clattering in the opposition box in stoppage time, with Mateusz Klich bringing him down, and Jorginho converted for a second time to win it for the Blues.
Speaking to the media after the game, Tuchel was full of praise for Rudiger and his will to win.
“He did not accept today to lose, we can agree on this one,” Tuchel said. “We expected an intense match for Toni and [Cesar Azpilicueta] because of Leeds’ unique style of defending.
“They have to be constantly in the game and focus on defending and attacking. They arrived in these spaces because they let us drive in there. It was good because he did not accept to lose.”
The London club had come off a tumultuous week, losing top spot in the Premier League after a 3-2 defeat at West Ham, before also losing first place in their Champions League group following a 3-3 draw at Zenit in midweek, and Tuchel was relieved his team put that behind them with a win.
“I was confident we’d get one more chance and turn things around because we played very strong in the first half and showed a good reaction after the equaliser,” the Chelsea head coach added.
“We played with a fear maybe to lose and we didn’t want to lose what we worked so hard for. It was a bit of luck in the end when you get a late goal but we’ve conceded two of them so maybe it was our turn.
“We needed this win desperately for the mood, the feeling, the atmosphere. We have two days off now which we need for the boys.”
88% – Of all players with at least eight Premier League goals (all time), Chelsea’s Jorginho has scored the highest proportion from the penalty spot (88% – 15/17). Ice. pic.twitter.com/QshZIxbJz1
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 11, 2021
The former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain head coach also had some kind words for the match-winner, Jorginho, whose penalty after 93 minutes and 11 seconds was Chelsea’s latest winning goal in a Premier League game since Florent Malouda’s strike against Stoke in September 2009 (93:36).
“He is super important,” Tuchel continued. “He sacrifices himself for many weeks actually. I knew this moment would come where he suffers because he played Champions League, then played in Europe with Italy, then qualifiers for the World Cup, so it was not only physical effort for him but it was mentally very demanding.
“He had no pre-season, started the Super Cup straight away, so I knew there would be a point in the season he doesn’t feel fully fit.
“But Jorgi is fully aware of the situation and has sacrificed. He has been hours and hours with the physios and medical department to get himself in the best shape possible.”
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