“Fair duel” as Tuchel doesn’t insist on hard feelings after clashing with Conte

LONDON (AFP) – Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he was delighted with a “fair tackle” from Tottenham boss Antonio Conte after both were shown red cards for two clashes in a heated 2-2 draw on Sunday.

Conte’s ebullient celebrations of Spurs’ first equalizer resulted in the two coaches being booked to equalize.

Tuchel responded by running across the touchline in celebration as Chelsea regained the lead through Reece James with 13 minutes to go.

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

Tuchel wasn’t happy with the Italian for failing to make eye contact during a full-time handshake, sparking another melee between both squads 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 at temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius in the English capital.

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

“We didn’t insult each other, we didn’t hit each other, we fought for our teams and there are absolutely no bad feelings from my side. I’m surprised we both got a red card for that.”

Tuchel’s anger was directed at the officials instead, as both Tottenham goals could have been disallowed.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s shot was ruled offside despite a possible foul on Kai Havertz under construction and Richarlison offside when the Dane’s shot was met.

Before the corner that resulted in Kane’s equaliser, Spurs defender Sergio Romero also avoided a red card for pulling Marc Cucurella down by the hair.

“That was a clear foul on Kai Havertz. Ok, the situation keeps going and going, then it’s clearly offside,” added Tuchel.

“Since when are you allowed to pull your hair on the soccer field? It is ridiculous.

“That’s the only frustration. I’m the happiest manager in the world because we played a fantastic game.”

Conte fended off several questions about his tete-a-tete with Tuchel but admitted there remains a gap between the sides 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’s better to talk about the game,” said Conte. “Chelsea have shown themselves to be a really good team, but compared to last season we did a little better.

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

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

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