Pochettino explains poor extra time performance from Chelsea

Mauricio Pochettino
Photo: Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that Chelsea were nowhere near good enough during the extra time of their Carabao Cup final defeat to Liverpool – but suggests his side’s late drop in intensity might have been intentional.

Virgil van Dijk scored the winner for the Reds very late into extra time, to deny Pochettino another opportunity to win his first trophy as a manager in English football.

Virgil van Dijk and Raheem Sterling had found the net during normal time, only to have their goals ruled off by VAR for offside.

Conor Gallagher and Cody Gakpo also struck the post in an exciting evening at Wembley, but just when the game seemed headed for a penalty shootout, Liverpool captain, Van Dijk popped up with a goal – steering Kostas Tsimikas’ in-swinging corner into the far left side of Djordje Petrovic’s post to leave the hearts of the Chelsea faithful shattered.

In his post-game reaction, Gary Neville slammed Chelsea for their poor performance during extra time, and branded them ‘billion pound bottle jobs’, but Pochettino has now defended his players, whom he says might have deliberately taken their feet off the pedal because they were hoping the match would go to a penalty shootout, where they expected to have the upper hand.

“Look, of course it was difficult,” the Chelsea boss said at a post-match press conference.

“Of course after we are frustrated. The players feel the disappointment. We were so close to winning the game after 90 minutes. They started to lose their energy. Chilly felt really, really tired. Gallagher, after five minutes, we needed to change.

“The team felt maybe the penalties would be good for us. The effort was massive. I am happy with the effort. It’s about to keep believing in that. We didn’t get the reward we wanted.”

Pochettino will have to admit that it’s embarrassing Chelsea lost out to Liverpool youngsters in extra time of the Carabao Cup final.