Tuchel delighted with Lukaku’s response and Saul’s step forward against Spurs, but concerned by fresh injuries

After taking a 2-0 lead from the first leg of our Carabao Cup semi-final with Tottenham Hotspur, Thomas Tuchel was delighted with our performance against an opponent in such good form, as well as being impressed by the players who came into the side against Spurs.

With more injuries and positive Covid tests in his squad, Tuchel was forced to make six changes to his team from the side which drew with Liverpool at the weekend and change our shape to a back four, but those disruptions didn't stop the Blues putting in an accomplished performance to dominate Tottenham at the Bridge.

It took us just five minutes to take the lead through Kai Havertz before a clearly rattled Tottenham defence scored our second for us, as Japhet Tanganga and Ben Davies combined in comical style to divert a free-kick into their own net.

Such was our supremacy throughout at Stamford Bridge that Tuchel's main disappointment after the match seemed to be that we hadn't claimed a bigger margin to take with us into next week's second leg, although the number of chances we managed to create was a source of great pleasure for our head coach.

'I liked the game a lot,' he said. 'This is far from normal, how we performed today against a Tottenham who at the moment are so strong, so compact and so full of confidence. We had two late last minute bits of bad news with Thiago and N’Golo, who were both supposed to start.

'So we decided yesterday to maybe switch to a back four and the guys were very open, very committed, very focused, to play like how we played. So it’s good and it’s not fair to demand performances more or less out of nothing, like from Saul, Hakim and Malang. All three were outstanding today and that makes us very happy because it was a very deserved win in a big match against a very strong opponent.

'We could have created a bigger cushion, it was possible, we created a lot. We were very strong because it is so hard to create against Tottenham, which we saw over the last games. Especially in the second half we created a lot, and a lot of big chances to have the third or fourth goal.

'So now as everybody knows this is not decided and we have to arrive in full focus and top shape again because we need another 90 minutes of top quality football if we want to go through to Wembley.'

Tuchel wasn't surprised to see such a committed performance from Romelu Lukaku on his return to the team...

'I’m happy with his performance, I liked how he played. He was strong, he was involved and showed huge commitment in our defensive work, which was important. He was always dangerous, always used his body and was always involved in dangerous situations.

'I expected it honestly because Romelu and handle pressure and can handle adversity. He seemed to be relaxed after the decision was made and we finished our talks and he knew what was going on, I felt him relaxed enough to have a performance like this.'

Our head coach saw another big step forward from Saul with an excellent performance in midfield...

'He is more happy, he is more free in training, I see it every day. He played better when he came on against Wolverhampton and had a good impact. He’s stepping up. I was so happy when I saw him on the sideline when we scored the equaliser against Liverpool because he was totally committed, it was very impressive to see him like this.

'It’s an important moment for him, but I have a feeling like he digested the experiences in the beginning when he maybe did not expect it like this. He’s not the first player to struggle from the switch and what he does is good because he’s open, he’s fully focused and totally committed to the team, so I’m very happy that he had a performance like today, it was a huge step forward.'

Our victory came at a cost, though, with Havertz and Azpilicueta both going off with injuries, and Tuchel had mixed news on the duo...

'I’m very worried by the injuries, but Azpi says his was only cramp and not an injury, which would be the good news. We trust him from here so hopefully it is only cramp.

'Kai has a problem with his finger, I think he broke his finger. It was horrible and he played through the pain, but the pain was getting bigger and bigger with every movement, with every touch from the opponent. He survived until half-time and then we needed to change.'

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