Thomas Tuchel has praised Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku's performance in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final clash against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night.
Romelu Lukaku brought forth controversy at Chelsea last week, owing to an unsanctioned interview he did with Sky Italia. The Belgian striker spoke about his desire to return to Inter Milan and also criticized Tuchel's tactics.
Lukaku was not part of Chelsea's squad for their 2-2 draw with Liverpool last weekend, but started the EFL Cup game against Spurs.
The Blues won the game at Stamford Bridge 2-0, thanks to a Kai Havertz strike and a Ben Davies own goal. Lukaku played the full 90 minutes, missing two chances to get his name on the scoresheet.
Despite not scoring or assisting on the night, Chelsea head coach Tuchel was happy with Lukaku's performance and felt the aftermath of the controversial interview has not affected the Belgian. The German manager said:
"I'm absolutely happy with (Lukaku's) performance, I like how he played, strong, huge commitment in defensive work. He was not affected by it, he was relaxed and fine with the situation, mentally he has moved on. He was always dangerous, always used his body, and was always involved in dangerous situations."
"I expected it honestly because Romelu can handle pressure, he can handle adversity, and he seemed to be relaxed after the decision was made and we finished our talks. I felt him relaxed enough to have a performance like this."
The second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final will be held at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium next week.
Chelsea boss Tuchel will fine Lukaku for explosive Sky interview
Lukaku's interview with Sky Italia did not go down well with Chelsea's hierarchy. The Blues have since then had talks with the player, who has also apologized to all concerned parties on air.
His apology has seen Lukaku regain his place in the team. However, Tuchel clarified in the pre-match conference that the striker will still be fined for his irresponsible actions.
"There will be some discipline action of course and he will accept it, of course. It happened what happened. It’s not a small thing, it’s not the biggest thing and it doesn’t make a comeback impossible, absolutely not. This is what we [will] prove now, but something happened and he will be fined and, of course, he needs to accept it."
Lukaku's return will be important to Chelsea, who have a severely injured and COVID-hit squad at the moment.