Chelsea’s Timo Werner scores against Real Madrid during their Champions League semi-final second leg match in London on Wednesday. Reuters
Thomas Tuchel hailed the hunger of his ‘fantastic’ Chelsea stars as they reached the Champions League final with a 2-0 win against Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Goals from Timo Werner and Mason Mount booked Chelsea’s first Champions League final appearance since they won the competition for the only time in 2012.
Tuchel’s side will face Premier League rivals Manchester City in the final in Istanbul on May 29.
Chelsea’s 3-1 aggregate victory was well deserved as they produced a commanding display in the semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge, stifling Real’s sporadic attacks and repeatedly hitting them on the counter.
They could easily have won more convincingly and Blues boss Tuchel was impressed by their tenacious performance.
“It was difficult in the first half when they had a lot of possession and made us suffer,” Tuchel said.
“We were dangerous on counter attacks, but never lost the desire or hunger to defend.
“It was a fantastic performance in the second half and we could have scored more earlier to be safe.
“It is a fantastic achievement and big congratulations to the team.”
Chelsea, who also have an FA Cup final date against Leicester on the horizon, have kept 19 clean sheets since Tuchel replaced the sacked Frank Lampard in January.
That defensive efficiency will give them a chance against City, who they have already beaten in the FA Cup semi-finals this season.
Chelsea face City again in the Premier League on Saturday and Tuchel won’t look further ahead than that.
“Ask me four days before the final,” he said of Chelsea’s chances in Turkey.
“It is too early to talk about the final because there can be injured players, out of form or whatever happens.
“We need to wait and see, hopefully we arrive with the whole squad and in a good moment, because it is not done yet.
“We want to go all the way, and that means arriving in Istanbul wanting to win.”
‘Should have scored five’: Tuchel also guided Paris Saint-Germain to last season’s Champions League final, where they lost to Bayern Munich, and he conceded it was a surprise to be back in the showpiece so soon.
“I am very happy that we have achieved this, I am very grateful and thankful to have this opportunity,” he said.
“You can never be ahead of plan as a manager and as a player, it does not exist.”
Mount’s goal in the closing minutes was a well-deserved moment in the spotlight towards the end of a superb individual season for the England midfielder.
Mount has emerged as Chelsea’s driving force as he silenced the critics who claimed he was given favourable treatment by former manager Frank Lampard.
Tuchel has quickly come to rely on the 22-year-old and he will have been impressed to hear Mount isn’t ready to rest on his laurels.
“We should probably have scored about five, but the most important thing is we won tonight,” Mount said.
“I can’t put it into words. To get that goal late on, you can see by the celebrations, it was a massive goal and gave us breathing space.
“We haven’t won nothing yet. We’ve got two massive cup finals and hopefully we can win them.”
Werner admitted he was relieved to redeem himself with a goal. Having missed a sitter when the semi-final first leg finished in a 1-1 draw in Madrid, Werner made amends in the return on Wednesday with the opening goal in a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge which put the Blues into the final with a 3-1 win on aggregate.
“We were the dominant team for two games. That’s why I’m glad I was able to make up for my mistake like this,” Werner told Sky.
“A childhood dream for everyone in the dressing room has come true.”
After a season blighted by a litany of high-profile misses, Werner was widely criticised after the first leg when his close-range effort was saved in Madrid.
“In the first leg I was the fool because I didn’t get the ball in from five metres,” the Germany striker added.
“I put this one away from five metres, even though it was a bit easier as there was no goalkeeper.