Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel chastised referee Szymon Marciniak for joking with Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti on Tuesday night.
Los Blancos eliminated the Blues from the Champions League in a 5-4 aggregate defeat, after winning 3-1 after 90 minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu to set up a thrilling extra-time period. After fantastic work down the left by Vinicius Junior, Karim Benzema headed home the game-winning goal in the 96th minute.
Chelsea had several chances to equalize late on, with Kai Havertz and Jorginho both wasting golden chances and failing to test Thibaut Courtois from close range. Tuchel lauded his team’s brave performance at full time, but he wasn’t so complimentary of referee Marciniak’s behavior after leaving the field.
“I like Carlo Ancelotti,” the former PSG manager remarked. “He is a very lovely man.” When I approached to shake his hand, I noticed the referee smiling and laughing with the opposing coach. This is a terrible moment to do this, as I told him.”
Blues fans were dissatisfied with the referee’s overall performance, especially after VAR ruled out Marcos Alonso’s goal in the 62nd minute, which would have placed the Stamford Bridge team ahead for the first time in the game. After seeing his cross blocked, the Spaniard unleashed a ferocious strike into the top corner with his unfavorable right foot, but VAR noticed that the ball had hit his hand after originally bouncing back off the defender.
Tuchel addressed the matter after the game, saying: “I’m disappointed for the referee because he didn’t verify [the disallowed Alonso goal], but that’s what happens when you play Real Madrid in the Champions League. We had a significant disadvantage to overcome.”
Despite the dramatic nature of the European exit, the German manager believes his team will be able to accept defeat. “These are the kinds of defeats we can digest and swallow because we left nothing to regret out there,” he explained. We did what we wanted to do and demonstrated the team’s quality and character.
“We deserved to succeed, but it was not to be; we were simply unlucky. The players deserve all of the credit. Unfortunately, both of their goals today were the result of errors in the build-up. They took advantage of our mistakes with individual quality, and we made too many of these significant blunders across the two legs.”
The winner of the quarterfinal match between Atletico Madrid and Manchester City will face Real Madrid in the semi-finals, and Pep Guardiola’s side will be aiming to avoid having to work as hard as Los Blancos. His team enters Wednesday night’s encounter with a 1-0 aggregate advantage thanks to a Kevin De Bruyne goal in the first leg, but they will expect Atletico to play more competitively and aggressively in their own stadium.