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Tuchel rages at refereeing and slams ‘joke’ penalty decision

A furious Thomas Tuchel fumed at referee Mike Dean and claimed the decision to deny Chelsea a penalty for what he deemed a foul on Christian Pulisic was a “joke” after Danny Welbeck’s stoppage-time header clinched a 1-1 draw for Brighton at Stamford Bridge.

Welbeck’s goal, nodded in from a Marc Cucurella cross, cancelled out Romelu Lukaku’s first-half header and ensured Chelsea slipped eight points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.

The Blues, already depleted by Covid and injuries, also lost Reece James and Andreas Christensen to hamstring and back problems respectively, but it was the refereeing which most irked Tuchel.

The 48-year-old felt Chelsea should have had a penalty in the second half when Pulisic went to ground following a tackle by Joel Veltman, and he was also frustrated by Dean’s decision to penalise Mason Mount before he put the ball into the empty Brighton net shortly before the equaliser.

“Honestly, I would never normally say it, but we have a 100 per cent penalty against Christian Pulisic and we have a 50-50 challenge from Mason Mount right before the equaliser when the ball is going into the net,” he said in his post-match press conference.

“Why does the referee even need to whistle before the ball is over the line? We have VAR to check. Why can we not wait and then check it, and then if he decides then it’s a foul, then decide it?

“Is he so sure? Or does he want to keep the tension up?

“The penalty is a joke. It’s honestly a joke not to interfere from VAR.”

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Chelsea’s draw with Brighton

Tuchel felt it was understandable his Chelsea side were below their best given their injury problems, which were compounded by the withdrawals of James and Christensen in the first half.

“We knew before that this was going to be a tough match against a strong side,” he added.

“They come well prepared. It’s always like this. I have not seen one team play a nice match against them, so it was clear we would struggle.

“We simply have way too many players of whom we don’t know what we can demand. They come from long injuries, they come from Covid. I simply don’t know what they are capable of doing.

“We started very, very well, until the injury for Reece James, which was a huge blow. Then we lose Andreas Christensen, who was until then again one of the top players on the pitch.

“At some point, it’s too much. That’s why I can understand that you struggle if you play against a Brighton side with nothing to lose and playing with confidence.”

Tuchel: How should we compete?

The draw leaves Chelsea eight points behind Manchester City, who beat Brentford in the other game on Wednesday night, and Tuchel offered little reassurance to supporters that the Blues are capable of making up the gap to the top.

“We have seven Covid cases, we have four or five key players out for six or more weeks,” he said.

“How should we compete in a title race?

“Everybody else has a full squad and has everybody in training and is training every single day at full power to come through this league.”

The point was enough to send Chelsea above Liverpool into second place, but anything less than victory against Jurgen Klopp’s side in Sunday’s game, live on Sky Sports, could prove terminal to their title chances.