Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel admits he had change tactics during their Club World Cup triumph against Palmeiras.
He watched his side taken to extra-time when a Palmeiras penalty levelled up a Romelu Lukaku headed goal, but was spared the stress of a shoot-out to decide the contest when Kai Havertz made no mistake from the spot, with three minutes of the additional period left on the clock.
It was not lost on the boss that it was the second time a Havertz goal had decided a big final in Chelsea’s favour.
“It was not easy to shoot that penalty,” praised Tuchel.
“I’m happy that Kai stepped up and took it the way he took it. This can only be good for his development.
“Palmeiras were a typical South American team, very good individually,’ our head coach continued as he analysed the game as a whole.
“They had solidarity and discipline and sacrifice against the ball. They can defend, they can suffer and with everything together, we knew it can be difficult to create chances and half-chances and we had to be patient and relentless at the same time.
“Sometimes in a final it’s a bit stuck in the beginning, you look for solutions but you don’t want to open up to too many spaces for counter-attacks on which they heavily rely, and where they are very, very good. So in the first half we struggled a little bit with the fluidity of our match.
“We changed the structure in the second half,’ he revealed, ‘and found the spaces better and scored a wonderful goal and had two or three good chances or half-chances after that. Then in a moment where we were in total control and were the better team and seemed to find spaces better and better and to implement a higher rhythm, in this moment we gave a penalty away from a throw-on which is very unusual.”
From that point Tuchel said, the whole story started from scratch again, which he explained is mentally and physically difficult for the players.
“But I have to say we never stopped attacking, never stopped trying and for extra time we changed the structure again and had a different structure to attack and to defend counter-attacks. The team did very, very well in extra time to control the match completely and the guys from the bench had a huge impact.
“Of course if you have a late penalty you’re also lucky but I think we deserved it because we did not allow a lot of chances and we never stopped trying and never stopped being active and doing the most for the game.”
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