Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho criticised referee Andre Marriner’s performance after his side lost at home to Chelsea, who continued their unbeaten start under new boss Thomas Tuchel and moved into the Premier League’s top six.
Jorginho’s first-half penalty, awarded after Eric Dier clumsily upended Timo Werner, gave the Blues a win their more progressive approach deserved against a Spurs side devoid of ideas and ambition until it was too late.
But Mourinho, who talked to Marriner at length as they walked off the pitch on Thursday, said: “I consider him one of the best referees in the Premier League. I care for him and one I have big admiration for him. That gives me a good position to tell him I did not like his performance.
“In the end a penalty decides the game. In the end they score a penalty which is not a penalty where you say it is a dangerous situation, one on one, almost scoring.
“It’s a penalty that is difficult to accept and to lose the game like this is a bit painful.”
Tuchel has now enjoyed two wins and a draw, without conceding a goal, since replacing the sacked Frank Lampard, and while the animated German occasionally displayed signs of frustration in his technical area, this was ultimately a satisfying outcome.
“The whole first half we totally controlled the game,” said Tuchel. “Maybe we lost confidence in the second half because we lost the ball possession.
“A bit more killer instinct and more aggression in the box would have been nice. It was a big win in an away game and I am very happy.”
In contrast, it was a third successive defeat in a dismal sequence for Tottenham and Mourinho, as they were punished for a desperately negative gameplan which, shorn of main marksman Harry Kane, barely gave Chelsea an anxious moment until Carlos Vinicius headed Serge Aurier’s cross wide at the far post when unmarked late on.
Tuchel has wasted no time in laying down his demands to Chelsea’s players and his presence on the touchline certainly galvanises them into action.
He was on the move throughout this win, constantly expressing pleasure and discontent, on one occasion shouting “yes” and applauding his side vigorously after bellowing “go, go” to order Chelsea to pressurise Spurs.
It is early days but Tuchel has got Chelsea playing at a faster pace and the right-sided combination of Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi is clearly something he feels has promise.
In reality, this was a relatively comfortable night for the Blues, despite losing the experienced Thiago Silva with a hamstring injury in the first half.
Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy was barely troubled, apart from a diving save from Erik Lamela, while Mason Mount’s driving runs and energy from midfield were sure to have impressed his new manager.
Werner is still struggling for a break, but he won the crucial penalty and never stopped running despite not always enjoying the best of fortune.
All in all, this was a pleasing night for Tuchel and his new charges.
Spurs manager Mourinho will no doubt point to that bad late miss by Vinicius as a moment when they might have snatched a point – but, in reality, they got what their approach merited: nothing.
Mourhino’s side looked desperately short of threat without the injured Kane, with even Son Heung-min struggling as he received little support or service.
In a bewildering first-half display, Spurs at times almost seemed unwilling to leave their own half, instantly handing the initiative to Chelsea. It was an invitation the visitors were only too happy to accept.
Tottenham, as they had to do, showed more positive intent after the break, but it was hardly a wave of attacks and, when he did make changes, it was significant Mourinho turned to Lamela and Lucas Moura rather than Gareth Bale, who was left unused.
Kane’s absence would strip any team of an edge of menace but it was also Mourinho’s no-risk strategy that let Tuchel’s side benefit for most of the game.
Late rally aside, particularly Vinicius’ miss, this was a grim evening for Spurs their manager.