Chelsea shared a wireless draw with Brighton to advance to the Champions League this night when the future of European football came to a head.
The match was almost a side note, and news broke before Chelsea prepared to leave the European Super League. Simultaneously as their fans protested against the club’s inclusion outside Stamford Bridge.
The Blues’ withdrawal notice was followed by Manchester City, with four other English clubs joining them later. The new competition that started the controversy opened 48 hours after the 12 clubs involved submitted their proposals.
Chelsea will need to finish in the top four in England’s top flight, with the Champions League teams now agreeing on the sides accordingly. Or win the competition to secure a place among the European champions next season.
The Blues have created little but enough points to see Thomas Tuchel’s side take the final spot. Moving ahead of London rivals West Ham, who they will face on Saturday.
Defender Ben White was sent off during a second reservation as Chelsea looked set to drop.
The draw moves Graham Potter’s team seven points ahead of the Premier League standings with six games to go.
The Blues distracted by a court game?
The drama began long before starting the game in west London as about 1,000 Chelsea fans gathered outside the stadium to protest against plans for a new European Super League in the face of widespread condemnation.
Blues goalkeeper Petr Cech, now the team’s technical and technical adviser, appeared to be urging the crowd to disperse so that the team’s coaches could land on the ground, resulting in a 15-minute delay.
It was not long before the news broke that Chelsea was in the process of preparing their withdrawal documents for the proposed tournament. And that this was met with joy by those still gathered in the area.
It is reported that the decision was taken by owner Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea board. After noticing a negative international reaction to the Super League, with a direct response to the protests.
Chelsea manager Tuchel said it had previously been “annoying and annoying” to his team as they looked to build on the momentum. They had gained by reaching the Champions League and FA Cup semi-finals last week.
And there was no escape during the warm-up as Brighton players wore the T-shirt readings “Football for fans” and ‘Champions League: Benefit’ to them.
The stadium drama did not go to the stadium as both sides of the Premier League’s best defensive record struggled to lock the holes.
Kurt Zouma’s long-range effort Robert Sanchez saved well was the best Chelsea could have done before the break. At the same time, Yves Bissouma’s effort to bring down the crossbar was as close as Brighton came.
Tuchel’s worries look set to be fulfilled by Zouma’s effort of just one in three in the Blues’ first half. Just a few minutes before the Premier League game since he took over against Liverpool in September.
It was the same pattern after the interval
It was the same pattern after the interval, with Brighton directed keeping its shape well and blocking any attacking movements from the management.
Tuchel introduced Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner in just over 20 minutes. After trying to stretch the Seagulls, with Olivier Giroud following shortly afterward.
But it was the visitors who enjoyed the best chances as Lallana first fired wide. After Chelsea handed the ball over the edge of their box and Welbeck, hit a great effort against the post.
Tuchel’s changes had little effect as Giroud turned Hudson-Odoi through the middle. They brought White, the winger, as he received a second yellow card in the 92nd minute.
It was 15 clean sheets in Tuchel’s 20th game in charge of the Blues. They have lost just one of 13 Premier League games since the arrival of Germany.
“I’m affected, so I think the players are also affected,” he said afterward. “And We are not talking about anything other than the Super League before the game. No one has asked about the game before.
“It’s like. You have to accept the disruption. We tried to create a spirit of winning the game, but we failed.”
Brighton, meanwhile, has won just two of their last ten league games. But a win at Sheffield United on Saturday will all be able to keep their level of play up for another year.
‘We looked mentally exhausted.’
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, speaking to Match of the Day: “We were disappointed. We wanted to win, and we knew how important these times were. Also, We wanted to be in third place after the game.
“We didn’t win and were unlucky not to lose. Furthermore, we made big mistakes, and we looked tired, mentally exhausted. We didn’t deserve a win that could be the first time since I came here.”
Brighton manager Graham Potter, speaking about the Match of the Day: “We could have won if we hit the post. We started well, but a few mistakes gave them some chances. But I felt like we had a great opportunity in the second half.
“We have lots of games to play. And we don’t think anything else except that we need to fight for every point and every game. Nobody gives you anything in this league. We have to fight for it and respect it.”
In the European Super League: “It has always been so disturbing, sad, and frustrating. It sounds like the integrity of the game has attacked the game in this country and throughout Europe. It’s about your fate being sorted out on the pitch.”