League Cup: Chelsea “Play With Fire” To Reach Final

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Thomas Tuchel said Chelsea reached the League Cup final despite “playing with fire” as Antonio Rudiger’s goal and three VAR decisions helped the Blues seal a 1-0 victory at Tottenham. on Wednesday. Rudiger’s first-half header ensured Chelsea built on the lead they had gained with a 2-0 victory in last week’s semi-final first leg. Tuchel’s side also had VAR official Mike Dean on his side as Tottenham were awarded two Andre Marriner penalties, only for reviews to overturn both, while Harry Kane had a goal disallowed for offside.

Chelsea, a 3-0 aggregate winner, will play either Liverpool or Arsenal in the final at Wembley on February 27.

Liverpool will host the coronavirus-delayed semi-final first leg against the Gunners on Thursday.

“We started well. We had great chances and we controlled the game, but I had the feeling that we played with fire,” said Tuchel.

“We allowed careless chances and we were lucky. We almost gave away a penalty for no reason, for a bit of confidence. We needed luck not to give away another penalty, to have a VAR decision offside,” he added.

Tuchel is the first manager in Chelsea history to lead the club to the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup finals, a feat he achieved just 350 days after his first game in charge in January 2020.

It is Chelsea’s first appearance in the League Cup final since 2019 as they aim to win the competition for the first time since 2015.

“We need to play better if we are really going to deserve results like this. We have to meet the standards,” Tuchel said.

Tottenham have not won a major trophy since lifting the League Cup in 2008 and their chances of ending that drought this season are dwindling.

Antonio Conte had admitted that it would be difficult to overcome the deficit against a team of the quality of Chelsea.

And the Tottenham manager’s pessimism proved well founded, as Chelsea quickly put a stranglehold on the north London draw.

“At the end of the two games, Chelsea deserved to reach the final of this competition, we have to be honest,” Conte said.

“In the second half we created a lot of chances to score and we deserved a better result than losing 1-0, but if you have a judgment on both games, Chelsea deserved to win,” he added.

Tottenham’s bid to become only the second team to reach the League Cup final after losing the first leg by more than one goal was shattered in the 18th minute.

-Drama VAR-

Pierluigi Gollini was a surprise starter for Tottenham in place of Hugo Lloris, a gamble by Conte that backfired as the goalkeeper was to blame for Chelsea’s opening goal.

It was a chaotic goal to concede as Gollini came off his line on a failed attempt to clear from Mason Mount’s corner, allowing an unmarked Rudiger to guide his header into the top corner through the underside of the bar.

Rudiger had already scored in Chelsea’s Premier League victory over Tottenham this season and once again the German defender’s aggressiveness proved too much for the North Londoners.

Tottenham thought they had won a penalty when Rudiger sent Hojbjerg to the ground with a sliding tackle on the Dane, but VAR changed Marriner’s decision to a free kick when the tackle was clearly made from outside the area.

Marriner’s poor decisions only added to Tottenham’s frustration and the referee was forced to deny the hosts another penalty in the second half.

Kane’s pass sent Lucas Moura on target, but Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga blocked with his legs at the right moment and, after Marriner mistakenly signaled the penalty spot, VAR intervened to change the decision.

Kepa made another important save moments later, jumping to his left to deflect Emerson Royal’s header.

Incredibly, Tottenham endured a third VAR reversal when Kane sent his shot into the far corner in the 63rd minute, only for the review to show he was inches from offside.

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