Tottenham manager Antonio Conte took evasive action as he was pressed on a fiery argument with Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel on Sunday. The managers clashed on several occasions during an entertaining 2-2 draw, with Harry Kane rescuing a point for Spurs at the death.
Chelsea felt hard done by with Tuchel praising his players for ‘dominating’ Spurs. The German pointed to a series of controversial refereeing decisions after Kane’s 96th-minute header deflected off Reece James on its way into the net, earning the visitors a point.
Earlier in the match, Kalidou Koulibaly had opened the scoring with a stunning volley from Marc Cucurella’s corner. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg equalised in the second half before James restored Chelsea’s lead, and Kane headed in with seconds of the match remaining.
Tempers flared on the touchline with both Conte and Tuchel cautioned for an altercation after Hojbjerg’s goal. The feud then erupted at full-time when the Chelsea boss took issue with a lack of eye-contact from his Spurs counterpart when shaking hands and a flood of players and backroom staff joined the melee.
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After the match, Conte was keen to keep questions focused on the football. “In my opinion it’s better to talk about the game,” he told Sky Sports. “The game was exciting and difficult for both teams but you want to try and be competitive. Chelsea showed to be a really good team but maybe, compared to last season, we did better.
“I don’t want to comment on the situation with Tuchel because it’s not the most important thing. If it’s a problem, it’s between me and him, not for the others. We are here to speak about football and not a situation between the two coaches.
On an incident that saw Cucurella pulled to the ground by his hair shortly before Spurs’ equaliser, the Italian added: “Honestly I didn’t see but there is VAR and it was very clear to continue the game without taking the decision.”
The animosity supposedly continued when players and staff filtered down the tunnel as Conte ‘barged’ into Chelsea star Mateo Kovacic which led to a ‘screaming’ argument. Stakes were high for the Spurs boss on his former stomping ground and his star striker, Kane, actively sought out the positives from a rollercoaster afternoon once the dust had settled.
“First half we weren’t good enough,” he admitted. “[But] we carried on fighting, pressing and thankfully we got one at the end. We were a bit late when we were pressing and good sides punish you. We wanted to play man for man and if you’re a second late, you’re going to get punished. Second half we changed the formation a little bit and it definitely worked out better.
“I’m happy with the way we fought back and it’s a nice feeling to get that one at the end. I flicked it and saw the net rustling right in front of our away fans. Especially after I had that chance earlier in the second half, it was great to see that one go in. It was an important game for us to show where we are as a team.
“We’ve got a long way to go but it was important after losing five or six times to Chelsea. To come away with a point at the end is a good feeling.
On the scuffle, he added: “I saw everyone gathering at the end and it was disappointing to see the red card. It’s an emotional game, both teams wanted to win but that’s sometimes what happens in these games.”