Thomas Tuchel paid tribute to the exceptional performance of his players and their ability to suffer in difficult moments as Chelsea booked their place in the FA Cup final with victory over Manchester City.
The Blues were thoroughly deserving of the win and sealed it early in the second half through Hakim Ziyech, who finished off a clinical counter-attack involving fellow forwards Timo Werner and Mason Mount.
It means we will participate in the final of the world’s oldest domestic cup competition for the fourth time in five seasons, taking on the winners of tomorrow’s Leicester City versus Southampton semi-final.
After the game, Tuchel provided his assessment and indicated his pleasure at the grit and guile of the boys in blue.
‘It was a very, very strong performance,’ he remarked. ‘I’m very happy and very proud. We played an excellent 35 minutes in the first half and then we had to suffer 10 minutes of some easy ball losses and of course the quality of City.
‘In the second half, we played another half an hour so strong and deserved the lead. We could even have been one goal higher but then in the last 15 minutes we suffered a lot because they played with a lot of risk and with many offensive players.
‘We were becoming a bit tired but it was a very strong performance and I’m very happy for my team that they performed on this level today.’
Ziyech and Werner combined for the game’s only goal…
‘You can only win against City if you have everybody on top level and the two guys were very good up front with their speed and acceleration, and also the impact that Mason had with the pass.
‘Timo and Hakim was the same line-up as against Liverpool where they were also very strong in an away game and a 1-0 victory so I‘m happy. On the other side, it has to be absolutely like this. Everybody who is on the pitch has to perform and now is the moment in the season where we cannot drop one per cent. That’s the way we want it.’
The boss also felt we deserved our latest clean sheet…
‘It’s well deserved and it makes me very happy that we deserved this and we were not just lucky to escape. We didn’t just sit back in the box against City and hope we are lucky to escape but we worked hard for this and you can feel the bond between the team.
‘There is a real solidarity and the guys are ready to cover for one another if anyone loses a duel. We wanted to show courage and be brave on the ball, which we did today and I’m so happy.’
Tuchel wants his players to benchmark themselves against City and was pleased with what he saw…
‘If you play against Pep [Guardiola], you know you play against the highest level in Europe because everywhere where he was at the sideline – Barcelona, Bayern and now Man City for years - he was the benchmark with his teams and you can see this in the Premier League.
‘Our target was to close the gap for the 90 minutes because it’s possible in football and if you arrive in a good momentum you can make this happen. We played with a lot of courage and were very self-confident, very brave with the ball and against the ball.
‘We deserved the win against one of the best teams with the best manager so that is a huge boost for our progression and development. We arrived with a young team and young players so it’s important to have this experience.’