Chelsea were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw against Brighton & Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Tuesday night, although the result did put Thomas Tuchel’s side back in the top four.
The start of the match was delayed 15 minutes due to unrest outside the stadium, where several hundred fans gathered before kick off to voice their opposition to Chelsea’s plan to join the European Super League, which was announced on Sunday. Those fans began to chant “we’ve saved football” when news that Chelsea were already beginning the process of pulling out of the breakaway league, according to ESPN sources.
During the match, Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel was left to voice his frustration loudly in his native German as his expensively assembled team saw every attack easily mopped up by the visitors’ back line led by captain Lewis Dunk.
Tuchel said his team had been distracted by the outpouring of anger at the breakaway plan.
“I was affected so I think the players were affected. We talk of nothing else but Super League before the match,” Tuchel said after the match. “Nobody asked about the match before. It is like this. You have to accept the distraction.
“We made big mistakes, looked tired, mentally tired. We did not deserve to win which is maybe for the first time since I come here.”
Christian Pulisic, who had scored three goals in his last five matches was named in Chelsea’s XI, had a penalty shout waved off in the 17th minute, while Kai Havertz had a great chance to open the scoring blocked by a Brighton defender soon after.
Chelsea spent almost the entire first half in the Brighton end, but the visitors’ resolute defence yielded no goals in the opening 45 minutes and the teams went into the break locked in a goalless draw.
Brighton substitute Adam Lallana wasted a glorious chance when he pounced on an error by Chelsea centre-back Kurt Zouma but fired wide in the 77th minute. Danny Welbeck struck a post two minutes later as Brighton pushed for a shock win.
“We had a couple of chances at the end. I should have buried mine,” Lallana said after the match. “That is what football is about — the underdogs coming here tonight. We were outstanding and should have taken three points.
“Huge positive again, like all season. We will keep plugging away and get more points on the board. We have a world class manager and good players, The lads are taking his instructions on board. We believe we are going to get points at big clubs.
Lalana also weighed in on the situation with the European Super League: “It is surreal. I was saying to one of the other lads I had this funny feeling all day. When we heard teams had pulled out it went away. I am not sure what has happened during the game.
“What has been shown is that together we are stronger than anything. It is great to see everyone coming together as one. We want games like this to have meaning. We are fighting for our lives, Chelsea are going for the Champions league.”
Brighton defender Ben White was sent off for a second yellow card in the 92nd minute, as Chelsea moved back into the top four on 55 points and ahead of West Ham United on goal difference, despite the dropped points against a relegation-threatened rival.
Meanwhile the point was an important one for Brighton, who stay in 16th place on 34 points.