Sports, Football

‘Fair tackle’ as Tuchel insists no hard feelings after Conte clash


By AFP
Published : 15 Aug 2022 07:52 PM

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he was happy to take a “fair tackle” from Tottenham boss Antonio Conte after both were shown red cards for clashing twice during a heated 2-2 on Sunday.

Conte’s overexuberant celebrations of Spurs’ first equaliser resulted in the two coaches being booked for squaring up.

Tuchel then responded by running down the touchline in celebration when Chelsea retook the lead through Reece James 13 minutes from time.

But Harry Kane’s 96th minute equaliser meant Conte had the last laugh.

Tuchel was not happy at the Italian for not making eye contact during a handshake at full-time, which sparked another melee between both sets of coaches and players.

“It was hot from the temperature and hot between the benches and hot on the field and hot between the spectators,” said Tuchel with temperatures soaring above 30 degrees Celsius in the English capital.

“There’s no hard feelings. I feel like it was a fair tackle from him and a fair tackle from me.

“We did not insult each other, we did not hit each other, we were fighting for our teams and from my side there’s absolutely no hard feelings. I'm surprised that we both got a red card for that.”

Tuchel's ire was instead directed towards the officials as both Tottenham's goals could have been disallowed.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s strike was allowed to stand despite a potential foul on Kai Havertz in the build-up and Richarlison standing in an offside position when the Dane’s shot was hit.

Before the corner leading to Kane’s equaliser, Spurs defender Sergio Romero also escaped a red card for dragging Marc Cucurella to the ground by his hair.

“It was a clear foul on Kai Havertz. Ok, the situation goes on and on and on, then it is a clear offside,” added Tuchel.

“Since when can you pull hair on the football field? It’s ridiculous.

“That’s the only frustration. I'm the happiest coach on earth because we played a fantastic match.”

Conte batted away several questions about his tete-a-tete with Tuchel, but admitted a gap between the sides remains despite Spurs' improvement.

Chelsea won all four meetings between the sides last season, three of them after Conte took charge in November.

“In my opinion it is better to talk about the game,” said Conte. “Chelsea showed to be a really good team, but compared to last season we did a bit better.

“The difference is clear. This team won the Champions League two years ago, last year won the Club World Cup, got to the final of the FA Cup and Carabao (League) Cup.

“There is a difference between Chelsea and Tottenham but we are here to reduce this gap. Last season we lost three times, this time we drew so it's a little step forward.”