'I didn't attack my players' - Maurizio Sarri defends his comments as Chelsea reach the Carabao Cup final
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri insisted he did not need to get a response from his players after they beat Tottenham 4-2 on penalties to seal a place in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City.
Sarri suggested his players were 'hard to motivate' in a well-publicised rant following last Saturday's disappointing 2-0 defeat at Arsenal, yet they showed much more spirit against a depleted Tottenham side at Stamford Bridge.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg at Wembley, Chelsea turned the tie around with goals from N'Golo Kante and Eden Hazard, with Fernando Llorente's second half goal for Spurs forcing the tie into a shoot-out without extra time.
Eric Dier and Lucas Moura missed the crucial spot kicks for Tottenham before David Luiz fired the decisive penalty for Chelsea, with Sarri keen to play down suggestions his public criticism of his players inspired them to produce a more committed display against their London rivals.
"I think that they reacted very well tonight, but I didn't attack my players," he insisted. "I only said we had a problem. The reaction was very good, but I think we need to have motivation with continuity now, but I was very happy with the performance before the penalties.
"Of course it's better because we will now play a final, a very difficult final but I was very happy with the performance. Also if there was a different outcome from the penalties (I would have been happy).
"I think in the last three or four matches we had a problem, firstly motivation and then the players stopped to having fun on the pitch. Now with this performance and result we can once again find enthusiasm which is very important.
"I think we have to think about the 180 minutes, the two matches. In two matches I think we deserved to win, and I think in this match we deserved to win without penalties."
Chelsea's win means Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is still waiting to win his first trophy as a manager, with Sarri a step closer to securing his first piece of major silverware in his coaching career.
"If you say I have never won anything at this level, you are right. Of course I started with non professional teams and won, so this is an achievement," he added.
"I'm happy because I will go to play a final at Wembley which is important for me, my players and the club, but now we must think about the next match in the FA Cup, and then the most dangerous one will be Bournemouth."
Pochettino declared he was proud of his players after their spirited display in the absence of injured duo Harry Kane and Dele Alli, with Son Heung-min also absent as he plays for South Korea in the Asia Cup.
"We won at Wembley, they beat us here," reflected the Tottenham boss. "Congratulations to Chelsea. We’ll keep going in the FA Cup game against Crystal Palace (on Sunday).
"In the second half we played so well and dominated and had chances, but over 180 minutes it was 2-2. Chelsea would have been disappointed at Wembley. That’s football.
"We changed in the second half. I think we started to dominate. In the first half before we conceded the first goal, we played well and had control. That’s football. When you have Hazard, Pedro, Giroud, Kante, they can score.
"The team was so good. I feel so proud. I’m so happy with the performance and the way we fought. After two amazing games I praise my players."