Thomas Tuchel has explained why he subbed off Ruben Loftus-Cheek just 15 minutes after bringing him on during Chelsea’s FA Cup final defeat to Liverpool.
Loftus-Cheek replaced Christian Pulisic at half-time of extra-time and slotted in as a centre forward as Chelsea chased a winner at Wembley.
But neither Chelsea or Liverpool could break the deadlock in Saturday’s final and Tuchel removed Loftus-Cheek just a few minutes before the penalty shootout, bringing on Ross Barkley.
Former Everton star Barkley took Chelsea’s fourth penalty and slotted his effort past Alisson, but the Blues nevertheless went on to lose the shootout 6-5.
Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Blues academy graduate Mason Mount both missed from the spot as Tuchel’s side suffered a penalty shootout defeat to Liverpool for the second time this season.
Asked whether Loftus-Cheek was injured, Tuchel said: ‘No, that was purely for penalties.
‘Ruben has not got a good history, statistically, and Ross has so it was purely because of the penalties.’
Despite suffering another Wembley final defeat, Tuchel spoke highly of his players, talking up the achievement of shutting out Liverpool for 240 minutes over the two matches.
‘Like in the last final, the Carabao Cup, no regrets. I told the team I was proud,’ Tuchel said.
‘We played 240 minutes of final team against maybe the most dangerous attacking team in the world and it’s 0-0.
‘We lose on penalties and we are disappointed and sad, but at the same time proud because we showed everything that we need. I was sure during the match the momentum was on our side but unfortunately I was not right.
‘We proved four times this season that we can produce peak performances to compete with them at this kind of level. All the results were deserved and could’ve gone our way or their way.’
Liverpool’s penalty shootout win means Jurgen Klopp’s side could still win a historic quadruple this season.
Klopp said: ‘I couldn’t be more proud of my boys, the shift they put in, how hard they fought, early changes.
‘We are mentality monsters but there were mentality monsters in blue as well – it was one penalty. Chelsea played outstanding but in the end there must be one winner and that was us today.’
Liverpool will aim to maintain the pressure on Premier League title rivals Manchester City when they face Southampton on Tuesday night, while Chelsea will attempt to pick themselves up on Thursday when they host Leicester City.
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