Football

Chelsea closing gap on Man City: Tuchel

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said his team were closing the gap with Manchester City and their "benchmark" boss Pep Guardiola after the west London side's 1-0 FA Cup semi-final win yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Blues' victory at Wembley - Tuchel's first over Guardiola - was a stark contrast to their 3-1 home defeat by City in early January, which hastened the departure of former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard.

"If you play against Pep, you know that you play against the highest level in Europe because everywhere where he was on the sidelines, with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now Manchester City, he was the benchmark for years with his teams and he is again," Tuchel said.

"Our target is to close the gap for the 90 minutes because it's possible in football and if you arrive in a good momentum, you can make this happen," he said.

"I am very, very happy and proud of the performance of our team because we played with a lot of courage."

Yesterday's win - secured with a 55th-minute goal by Morocco attacker Hakim Ziyech - means Chelsea will play the winner of this morning's clash between Leicester City and Southampton in the final.

With fifth-placed Chelsea in the hunt for a top-four English Premier League finish and having sealed a Champions League semi-final spot last Wednesday morning, Ziyech said: "It was a perfect week and we can enjoy that.

"Now it's a special end to the season if you see what we are still playing for."

The EPL's all-time top scorer Alan Shearer hailed Tuchel's tactics against City.

He said on BBC One: "Chelsea's system stopped Manchester City playing.

"City played a high line - one of the reasons (Timo) Werner played was to use his pace and get in behind and it worked to perfection.

"Usually, City pass and pass and try to wear you down. Chelsea weren't bothered. They held their shape and City couldn't get in behind. Chelsea were so compact." - AFP, REUTERS

Football