Thomas Tuchel accepts referee Anthony Taylor’s decision to send off Reece James in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool, but says it spoiled the rest of the contest at Anfield.
Chelsea were a goal to the good in Saturday’s tussle between the two Premier League title hopefuls through a Kai Havertz header when the game exploded in controversy.
Taylor was prompted by VAR to look at the pitchside monitor after Sadio Mane’s shot cannoned off James’ leg on the goal-line and hit the wing-back’s hand.
A penalty was awarded and subsequently converted by Mohamed Salah in first-half stoppage time, though Chelsea’s players reacted furiously to the red card that was also issued to James.
Tuchel’s side held on for the whole of the second half with 10 men, but the German coach felt the game suffered as a result of the dismissal.
“The red card – not even I’m sure any more if it’s the rules or not the rules,” he told BBC’s Match of the Day.
“You have to accept the decision, but maybe would have changed his mind with moving pictures. In the end it maybe would have stayed the same.
“I don’t like early red cards in general because it spoiled the game. In the end it was a tough and hard fight. We showed great resilience and deserved the point.”
Liverpool had 14 shots in the second half, six of those being kept out by Edouard Mendy – the most saves he has made in a single game for Chelsea since joining last September.
Chelsea also had some promising moments on the counter, with Mateo Kovacic testing Alisson late on, but Tuchel was more than happy to come away from Anfield with a point given the circumstances.
“We decided to stay in a back five,” he said. “We wanted to stay active and make it hard to create chances for Liverpool. The first 10 minutes of the second half seemed endless.
“The last five minutes I was actually praying we take what we deserved. It was a hard and a tough one, but a very strong second half defensively.”
James, who had earlier assisted Havertz’s sublime headed opener, became the first Chelsea player to be sent off away to Liverpool in the league since Frank Lampard in 2009.
At 21 years and 263 days, he is the youngest Blues player to be dismissed in the top flight since John Obi Mikel, aged 20 years and 154 days, versus Manchester United in 2007.
While Tuchel accepted the referee’s decision to reach into his pocket, Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta took a different view.
“It was harsh,” Azpilicueta, who is now just the fourth Chelsea player to reach 300 Premier League appearances after John Terry (492), Frank Lampard (429) and Petr Cech (333), told BBC Sport.
“I feel sorry for Reece. The referee got advice from VAR to give it. He went to the screen to watch one replay.
“We got the double punishment, red card and a penalty – and two yellow cards in the aftermath.
“We were angry, but you have to calm down and find a way to fight together as a team. I think the team fought and maybe we had the best two chances in the second half.”
Chelsea remain level on points and goal difference with Liverpool after three games and return to action with a home match against Aston Villa after the international break.
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