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Thomas Tuchel accepts referee Anthony Taylor’s decision to send Reece James in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool, but says it ruined the rest of the competition at Anfield.
Chelsea were a good target in Saturday’s match between the two hopefuls in the Premier League title through a Kai Havertz header as the match exploded into controversy.
Taylor was asked by VAR to look at the monitor on the pitch after Sadio Mane’s shot cannoned James’ leg at the finish line and hit the wingback’s hand.
A penalty was awarded and subsequently converted by Mohamed Salah in the first half stoppage time, although Chelsea’s players reacted angrily to the red card that was also issued to James.
Tuchel’s side held on throughout the second half with 10 men, but the German coach felt the game a bit as a result of the dismissal.
“The red card – not even I’m sure anymore whether it’s the rules or not the rules,” he told the BBC’s Match of the Day.
“You have to accept the decision, but perhaps would have changed the meaning of moving images. In the end, it might have been the same.
“I do not like early red cards in general because it ruined the game. In the end, it was a tough and tough fight. We showed great resilience and deserved the point. ”
Liverpool had 14 shots in the second half, six of which were kept out by Edouard Mendy – the most saves he has made in a single game for Chelsea since joining in September last year.
Chelsea also had some promising moments on the counter, with Mateo Kovacic testing Alisson late, but Tuchel was more than happy to get away from Anfield with a point under the circumstances.
“We decided to stay in a fiver back,” he said. “We wanted to stay active and make it difficult to create chances for Liverpool. The first 10 minutes of the second half seemed endless.
“In the last five minutes, I actually asked that we take what we deserved. It was a tough and a tough, but a very strong second half defensively. ”
James, who had previously helped Havertz’s sublime head opener, became the first Chelsea player to be sent to Liverpool in the league since Frank Lampard in 2009.
At 21 years and 263 days, he is the youngest Blues player to be sacked in the top flight since John Obi Mikel, 20 years and 154 days, against Manchester United in 2007.
While Tuchel accepted the referee’s decision to reach into his pocket, Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta took a different view.
“It was tough,” Azpilicueta, now only the fourth Chelsea player to reach 300 Premier League games after John Terry (492), Frank Lampard (429) and Petr Cech (333), told BBC Sport.
“I feel sorry for Reece. The judge was advised by the VAR to grant it. He went to the screen to see a playback.
“We got the double penalty, the red card and a penalty kick – and two yellow cards in the wake.
“We were angry, but you have to calm down and find a way to fight together as a team. I think the team fought and maybe we had the two best chances in the second half. ”
Chelsea remain on level and point difference with Liverpool after three games and return to action with a home game against Aston Villa after the international break.