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‘Your passion made this possible’ – Tuchel dedicates Chelsea’s first Club World Cup to Abramovich

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel dedicated his side’s first Club World Cup triumph to owner Roman Abramovich after an extra-time win against Brazilian side Palmeiras.

A 117th-minute penalty in Abu Dhabi by Kai Havertz – who also scored their 2021 Champions League winner – means the Blues have now won every possible trophy under the ownership of the Russian billionaire

Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring with a header in the second half before Raphael Veiga levelled from the spot.

Palmeiras defender Luan was sent off in added time as the Blues sealed victory.

“It is for him, there is no doubt that it is for him,” said Tuchel of Abramovich.

“We met quickly on the pitch after the final, he said ‘congratulations’ and I said ‘congratulations, it’s for you, it’s your club and it’s your input and your passion that made this possible’ and I’m happy to be part of it.

“So of course the trophy is for him.”

Much like in their semi-final win against Al-Hilal, Chelsea dominated possession but struggled to create chances for much of the final in the United Arab Emirates.

Their cutting edge looked unlikely to improve when Mason Mount was forced off through injury, just as he was in their FA Cup tie with Plymouth, while Lukaku continued to cut an isolated figure up front.

Palmeiras were content to make the most of their threat on the counter-attack, with the pace of Rony and Dudu stretching the Blues defence, but there were very few clear-cut chances.

Then nine minutes after the break, Lukaku made the breakthrough when Callum Hudson-Odoi sent in his first pinpoint cross and the Belgium striker powered a header past Weverton.

Christian Pulisic, Mount’s replacement, went close with a shot from distance after a smart lay-off from Lukaku as the English side looked to cement their control.

But just past the hour mark, Palmeiras equalised when Thiago Silva was adjudged to have handled in the area and, after a check on the pitch-side monitor, Veiga converted emphatically from 12 yards to send the game into extra time.

With a penalty shoot-out looming, Chelsea secured the trophy with a spot-kick of their own. Luan’s handball was also checked on the monitor before Germany playmaker Havertz fired home.

Luan was then dismissed for a foul on the match winner in the final minute, after the referee was told to consult the monitor for a third time.

‘We were running out of lights’

Tuchel says he only beat his Covid isolation at the “second-to-last chance” to coach Chelsea to their maiden Club World Cup title in person.

The Blues’ German boss was frustrated by having to coach Chelsea in the FA Cup fourth round against Plymouth and the Club World Cup semi-final from his office.

And, as time ticked down, he says he made several drives to the airport without even waiting for his Covid test result, such was his desperation to join the Chelsea squad in Abu Dhabi.

He tested negative at the penultimate chance to reach the United Arab Emirates in time though.

“We were running out of lights, with the time difference we knew the deadline was coming,” said Tuchel.

“So it was the second-to-last chance to make it, the last one would have been to arrive today in the morning. So I’m happy that we made it.

“I was several times on my way to the airport and several times while I was driving called back because my test was not negative.

“And finally we made it, I arrived yesterday for dinner, at 8.15 in the evening. Coaching is also about feeling, on the touchline. It’s not possible to coach only from the office.”

Source: BBC

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