Call it the Battle of the Bridge, Part 2.
This time, Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte were the main protagonists in the latest feisty match between Chelsea and Tottenham that ended in a 2-2 draw because of a goal deep into stoppage time from Harry Kane.
That ended up being an afterthought, though, following the explosive end to the game at Stamford Bridge, just like there was in 2016 when Tottenham’s title challenge ended with a 2-2 draw against Chelsea and both sets of players and coaches clashed repeatedly on and off the field.
Six years on, it was the managers in the spotlight. As Tuchel and Conte shook hands on the field after the final whistle, Tuchel seemed to not let go of his grip and intimated that Conte look him in the eyes. They squared up and shouted in each others’ faces, before players and coaches from both teams piled in and pushing and shoving ensued.
Tuchel and Conte were then shown straight red cards.
They had clashed during the match, too, when Conte celebrated Tottenham’s first equalizer by Pierre-Emile Højbjerg in the 68th minute. He went up to Tuchel and barged into his chest, sparking a melee among the coaching staff and substitutes as Tuchel pointed to Conte and told him to stay in his part of the technical area.
Then, after Reece James put Chelsea back in front in the 77th, Tuchel set off on a sprint past Conte and down the touchline, clenching his fist in delight.
“I thought when we shake hands you looked in each other eyes, but Antonio had a different opinion,” Tuchel said of the post-match clash with Conte.
“He was happy when they equalized and it got a bit heated, but nothing big … I think it was not necessary but a lot of things were not necessary.”
Conte said the referee “didn’t understand the dynamic of what happened… It would be a pity if for this situation we miss the next game.”
The Italian manager said he will “pay more attention” next time when he shakes hands with his German counterpart.
“I’ll stay on my bench, he’ll stay on his bench. No problem about this,” Conte said.
Kane’s goal, a glancing header from a corner in the sixth minute of stoppage time, ended Chelsea’s run of five straight wins over Tottenham in all competitions.
Conte deserves credit for the way his second-half substitutions changed the flow of a game that Chelsea dominated until that point.
Still, Tottenham might have been lucky with its first goal, which probably shouldn’t have counted since there was a foul on Chelsea forward Kai Havertz by Rodrigo Bentancur that went unpunished before Spurs mounted their attack.
Chelsea defender Marc Cucurella, who assisted on Kalidou Koulibaly’s opener from a brilliant volley in the 19th minute, also appeared to have his long hair pulled by Christian Romero at a corner before the one Kane scored from.
“We were absolutely brilliant,” Tuchel said. “Only one side deserved to win and that was us. Both their goals cannot stand.”
Tuchel even suggested, when asked, that “maybe it would be better” for Anthony Taylor not to referee Chelsea again.
“Since when can players have their hair pulled? And if he does not see it, I don’t blame him — I didn’t see it. But we have people at VAR who check this, and then you see it. And then what? How can this not be a free-kick, and then a red card? How?”
The result left both teams on four points from two games and with only Manchester City and Arsenal on a maximum six points.
FOREST’S FIRST WIN
It was a victory 23 years in the making for Nottingham Forest.
Playing its first home game in the Premier League since 1999, Forest somehow escaped with a 1-0 win over West Ham thanks to a fortunate goal by Taiwo Awoniyi, who saw a block from a defender strike his leg and ricochet into the net.
Forest rode its luck at the other end, with Declan Rice having a 65th-minute penalty saved by on-loan goalkeeper Dean Henderson and both Pablo Fornals and Said Benrahma hitting the underside of the crossbar with long-range shots. Benrahma also had a goal ruled out after video review late in the first half.
While West Ham has now opened with back-to-back losses, Forest is off the mark after starting with a 2-0 loss at Newcastle last weekend.
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