Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has explained the confrontation with the fourth official and why he didn’t join in the team huddle at extra-time after the Blues reached the Europa League final.
After Chelsea and Eintracht Frankfurt had drawn 1-1 in the first leg in Germany, the Blues were held to another draw of the same scoreline to send the game into extra-time. They held on in the additional 30 minutes, meaning the game would be decided by penalties.
Kepa saved two penalties, before Eden Hazard scored the winning spot-kick, to help Chelsea reach their second cup final this season, after the Carabao Cup earlier in the campaign.
“It was clear we were not able to score the second goal in the first half, the match was difficult. Also because, if you are not very, very compact on the pitch, they are dangerous,” said Sarri.
“In an open match, they become really very dangerous. Or you are able to take control of the match for 90 minutes, to stay high and play in the opposing half, otherwise they are very, very dangerous.
“We were not able to score the second goal in the first half and were in trouble in the first part of the second half. We did better after that and, in extra-time, we were really very tired. Also the opponents were very tired. I think it was a wonderful match.”
Asked about the fracas with the fourth official, Sarri said: “Because I wanted to see my team more compact. As I said before, if you are not compact against these opponents, you risk, and I didn’t want to risk.”
The former Napoli boss also explained why he wasn’t in the team huddle at extra-time.
Sarri said: “Because I don’t want to enter on the pitch. A superstition. [Laughs] I don’t need to talk to them. I spoke with Zola so they knew very well what to say.”
Chelsea’s dramatic shoot-out when means all four European finalists are from the Premier League with Sarri’s men facing Arsenal and Liverpool and Tottenham facing off for the Champions League trophy.
“Here the level is very high. Very high,” added Sarri. “If you think that, for getting to the final of the League Cup, we had to play against Liverpool, against Tottenham the finalists of the Champions League, then we played against the best team in Europe in the final, Manchester City. So you can understand the level here is very high.
“At this moment, the Premier League is the best championship in Europe and, as a consequence, in the world. So it’s not easy for an English team to arrive in the last month in a very good condition, physically, because here we play more than in the other countries. We played the match No. 61 today.
“In Italy you can play 50/52 matches, but it’s a big difference. 10 matches of difference is a big difference. Two and a half months without training, so a big difference.
“A final. A final. We played the first final against Manchester City and lost. So now we want to win. In our opinion, our group deserves to win. We were in trouble three months ago and, here in England, if you’re in trouble the level of opponents is very high and it’s not easy to overcome difficulties. We were able to do it. So now we deserve to win a trophy.”