Thomas Tuchel praised Kai Havertz for giving him a headache ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final second leg with Real Madrid with his match-winning performance against Fulham.
Havertz scored a goal in each half as Chelsea cruised to a 2-0 victory over Fulham, which moved them six points clear of West Ham in the race for the top four, although David Moyes’ side have a game in hand.
The Germany international had started on the bench in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Madrid, but may have given Tuchel a selection problem for the return fixture at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday after doubling his Premier League goals tally for the season having scored only two goals in his previous 24 appearances in the competition.
“Still there is room for improvement but for today I am very happy,” Tuchel told a media conference of Havertz’s performance.
“Of course, he was decisive, he was involved with Timo [Werner] as a double striker and with Mason [Mount] and Hakim [Ziyech] as the four offensive guys, always involved in dangerous attacks and situations.
“For me it was the individual example for what I just explained, the players today who maybe had a tough decision on them last Tuesday but they didn’t say, or like Kai today, didn’t play with the attitude that they need me and I wanted more time in Madrid, why do they play me now only against Fulham?
“This was absolutely not the case, he took his chance, he showed up, this is what we need all the time and especially in situations like this, you need guys who are fully committed.
“That means if you have a chance to show up, then show. If you have five minutes, fifteen minutes or a whole game, whatever it is, show that you are ready and give me a headache for the next game.”
Asked if the race for a top-four finish is now theirs to lose, Tuchel replied: “No, I feel we have nothing to lose. We are in the middle of the race.
“I think it will continue but it was such a big match to keep the advantage, we have worked so hard in the last week and like I said it is very important that we have a clear mind and nothing to regret for the Wednesday game.
“Then comes the Wednesday game and then look at our fixtures, you see how tough it is. We take nothing for granted, we work hard and keep our head down, feet on the ground and try to the best we can.”