Thomas Tuchel upset with officials as Chelsea exit Champions League

Thomas Tuchel risked the ire of UEFA by claiming that referees lack the “courage” to make important decisions against Real Madrid.

Chelsea boss Tuchel even admitted he could expect repercussions for criticizing Polish referee Szymon Marciniak following the Blues’ 5-4 Champions League quarter-final elimination.

Chelsea defeated Madrid 3-2 at the Bernabeu Stadium in their round of 16 second leg, but exited the tournament on aggregate and only after extra time in Madrid.

Karim Benzema’s late header finally ended Chelsea’s hopes of a miraculous comeback, but German coach Tuchel lamented Marcos Alonso’s disallowed goal and a handful of other frustrating issues.

Tuchel also criticized referee Marciniak for “laughing and smiling” with Real manager Carlo Ancelotti on a full-time basis.

“I am disappointed that the referee had a good time with my colleague, Carlo Ancelotti,” said Tuchel.

“I know that Carlo is a gentleman and a good guy, but when I wanted to go and thank him, I saw him smiling and laughing out loud with the opposing coach.

“I think this is the worst time to do this, after 126 minutes with a team giving their heart and desire, fighting to the last drop.

“Then you go as a coach and you see the referee laughing and smiling with the other coach. I think it’s a very, very bad time.”

Asked if he was frustrated with the VAR decision to rule Alonso’s goal out for handball, Tuchel continued: “Not just today, it’s been like that for a while, and now maybe he’s in trouble.

“If you play against Real Madrid, maybe you can’t expect everyone to have the courage. I felt that small decisions went against us also in the first leg and today as well.

“I didn’t see the goal, but I told him I was very disappointed he didn’t go check it himself.

“You must continue to be the boss and not give decisions like that to someone in a chair and isolated from the environment (the VAR).

“A referee has a certain style, things that he allows and doesn’t allow, so I think he should stay in charge and check it out for himself, then he could explain it better.

“But this is just my opinion. Maybe that’s too much to ask in matches like this against this opponent.

Szymon Marciniak

Szymon Marciniak, center, was criticized by Thomas Tuchel (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

“We had it in our hands and we were not lucky, it is like that.”

Tuchel almost conceded defeat after Chelsea lost the first leg 3-1 at Stamford Bridge last week.

But they took a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Mason Mount, Toni Rudiger and Timo Werner.

Rodrygo buried a fine volley after an even better pass from Luka Modric to bring Real Madrid off the brink, however, before Benzema struck another powerful header to send Madrid off.

“We are very disappointed and very proud at the same time,” Tuchel said.

“We played a fantastic game, we deserved what we had, four goals and we had great opportunities to score even more.

“We were unlucky and so we are disappointed.

“Pure individual quality and two errors after ball kicks beat us, which are the most crucial moments against Real Madrid.

“In the end we were unlucky, we deserved to go through after this performance today, but it wasn’t meant to be. Luck was not on our side and luck is always needed.”

Real Madrid boss Ancelotti praised his players for finding their way to victory from a spotty performance at best.

“I think in some moments we were not hungry enough, but our performance, especially in the first half, was good,” Ancelotti said.

“And then after the second goal we started having problems because my team experienced a bit of psychological depression.

“But this stadium is really magical and our fans really help our players, the whole team to never give up.

“I am very, very happy to have reached the semi-finals thanks to this team, a team that is capable of suffering.

“But the more we suffer on the pitch, the happier I am afterwards.

“I think Chelsea used up a lot of their stamina and that gave us an advantage in extra time because my players weren’t as fatigued as our opponents.