Thomas Tuchel says Chelsea will go into the Champions League final knowing they can beat Manchester City again after delaying their title coronation with a dramatic 2-1 victory at the Etihad on Saturday.
City could have confirmed themselves as Premier League champions for the third time in four seasons had they beaten Chelsea but instead were left requiring three more points to clinch the title as Tuchel laid down another marker against Pep Guardiola's side.
Having ended City's Quadruple hopes in the FA Cup semi-finals, Chelsea and Tuchel geared up for their Champions League final showdown with City with a thrilling victory in Manchester, as Hakim Ziyech and Marcos Alonso's stoppage-time winner completed a spirited second-half comeback after Raheem Sterling had opened the scoring.
City could have had two hands on the title had Sergio Aguero doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time but his failed Panenka penalty was saved by Edouard Mendy and Chelsea took full advantage of their reprieve, much to the delight of Tuchel.
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"What a performance in the second half," the Chelsea boss told Sky Sports. "It was more or less equal in the first half, but we almost gave the game away in the last five minutes. If they scored the penalty, maybe the game would have been over before it really started. If it went to 2-0, maybe we wouldn't have had a chance to come back.
"It was very hard, we were 1-0 down and had an injured player, I'm absolutely impressed by the performance and reaction in the second half and we deserved to win the second half.
"If you want to steal all three points at the Etihad in this situation, of course you need a bit of luck, momentum, and decisions from the referee. But we had many chances in the second half, so a big, big congratulations to the players.
"We were more confident in the second half, the goal helped us a lot and suddenly we were more physical and recovered the balls higher. It was a physical battle and we never stepped back or gave up, instead we increased our motivation. I'm absolutely delighted with the performance."
'We are capable of beating City' - Tuchel on Champions League final
Tuchel has now won his first two meetings with Guardiola since his appointment as Chelsea head coach. They meet for a third time in the Champions League final on May 29 and the German says the Blues will travel to Istanbul safe in the knowledge they can win.
"The win gives us confidence but, as I have said before, this result will not change the [Champions League] final," Tuchel added. "The final is a very unique game and you cannot predict what will happen.
"You need to be well prepared, we will have some changes again, they will have some changes again, but we will arrive with the knowledge we are capable of beating City. This is what we have now, and this will not change until Istanbul."
Pep fumes as City pay two penalties
For Guardiola and Manchester City, the Premier League title-winning champagne was put firmly on ice as the champions-in-waiting were left to come to terms with a tale of two penalties.
Record goalscorer Aguero embarrassingly fluffed his failed Panenka penalty - and came out on social media to apologise after the game - which saw City pass up the opportunity at the end of the first half to double their lead and move to within touching distance of the title.
I would like to apologise to my teammates, staff and supporters for missing the penalty. It was a bad decision and I take full responsibility.— Sergio Kun Aguero (@aguerosergiokun) May 8, 2021
"It was a tight game but in general we played really well," Guardiola told Sky Sports. "We missed our chance in the last minute of the first half with the penalty.
"It was Sergio's decision [to take a Panenka], the taker has to make that decision. I always say decide and take it fully convinced, he decided to do it this way."
In his post-match press conference, the City boss added: "Listen, it's selfish because he misses. If he scores the goal, we'll say how he is a genius. That is the reality.
"Always I say to the players in the penalty, take one decision. Running, right, left, short, or whatever you want, but commit. Sergio was convinced, but he missed. Everyone is disappointed, but the first disappointed is him. He's a sensible guy.
"We are not going to talk about what Sergio has done or how he is for this club, for this team right now, for all this period have been here. So he took the decision and that's all."
Pep on Sterling incident: It's a penalty!
Guardiola was convinced City should have had a second penalty shortly before Alonso's winner when Sterling went down as he was challenged by Kurt Zouma.
"It was a penalty," he added. "It's a penalty, that's all. In football this happens. Next time we will try and score our penalty and that's all.
"The opinion of [referee] Anthony [Taylor] and the officials, they know it and that's all I can say. Sometimes we make mistakes, maybe they believe they didn't make a mistake, that's OK. I saw it on the TV, it's a penalty, that's all."
Despite the frustrating result it surely remains only a matter of time before City do clinch the title.
It could even be secured before their next game against Newcastle on Friday if second-placed Manchester United drop three points from their three games over the coming five days.
Guardiola said: "We are sad we lost, we wanted to close out the Premier League, but we have to be focused. Football is unpredictable and we have to focus on the game at Newcastle.
"In 21 days we are going to face Chelsea again in the Champions League final. We need to learn from this and before that try to win the three points to win the title."