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Thomas Tuchel's reaction after Chelsea's heroic Champions League near miss in Madrid

Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel reacts at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 12, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Kevin Palmer

Thomas Tuchel saluted his players after they came close to a stunning comeback win against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

Karim Benzema’s punishing header crushed Chelsea’s remarkable comeback as Real Madrid lost 3-2 on home soil, but reached the Champions League semi-finals 5-4 on aggregate.

French marksman Benzema produced a carbon-copy of the two headed goals he scored in last week’s quarter-final first-leg at Stamford Bridge, where his hat-trick had Real expecting to stroll into the last four.

Champions League holders Chelsea turned up in Madrid with other ideas however, big ideas in fact, of a memorable and odds-defying comeback in this pulsating second-leg.

"We were unlucky. That is why we are disappointed," said Tuchel. "We got beaten by individual quality and conversion. We made two mistakes, two ball losses. We deserved to go through after this match today. It was not meant to be.

"The players lived up to the plan in a very different way that we did against Brentford and in the first leg.

"This is the huge difference. We were never shy of making the point that this is the most important: how we live up to a tactic and perform in the structure. This was at the full limit today.

"We were very disciplined on the ball and very active and invested off the ball. We showed courage and from there we showed out quality. This is the right way to do it. If we have this kind of effort, we are a special team.

"We have to reduce our amount of mistakes and we could not reduce them to a minimum over the two legs. We had two crucial ball losses.

"There are no regrets. These are the kind of defeat you can take with pride as a sportsman.

"We had a huge deficit to overcome because we did big mistakes in the first leg and today both goals come from mistakes from us - they took advantage of the msitakes with individual quality and that was enough because over the two legs we did too many of these big mistakes."

Tuchel also ripped into the match officials as he added: "I was disappointed that the referee had a good time with Carlo (Ancelotti)," he said of the Real Madrid boss.

"When I wanted to go and say thank you, he was smiling and laughing with the opponent's coach. I think this is the very wrong time to do this after the final whistle, 126 minutes of a team giving their heart. When you go and see a referee smiling and laughing with the other coach, it's bad timing. I told him this.

"I felt the little decisions in the first leg and today as well. I didn't see the goal but I am super disappointed he didn't come out and check it on it's own. You should stay the boss and not give the decisions to someone in a chair and who is isolated."

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