Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel said Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Wolves “felt like a defeat” after witnessing his players “play like they were 2-0 down rather than 2-0 up” in the closing stages at Stamford Bridge.
Visiting captain Conor Coady rescued a point with an added-time header for Wolves to stun the Blues, who had stormed into a 2-0 second-half lead through Lukaku’s double.
Incoming Chelsea owner Todd Boehly was on hand at Stamford Bridge just hours after signing a purchase agreement to buy the west London club from Roman Abramovich.
The 46-year-old US tycoon was left bemused by VAR, delighted by Lukaku’s return to form – his first league goals since December – and then deflated by the Blues allowing a winning position to slip away.
Chelsea’s club-record £ 98m signing Lukaku’s double should have won the day for the Blues but Wolves had other ideas, with Francisco Trincao and then Coady turning the match on its head.
Tuchel said: “Of course [it feels like a defeat]. We started both halves very well and controlled the match with a very offensive approach to this game today with a 5-3-2 formation.
“We knew about the risk to avoid counter-attacks and we needed to show discipline. We did for most parts of the first half but in situations, we took too much risk and lost discipline in the formation.
“That cost us some dangerous moments at the end of the first half when we were lucky not to concede.”
Trincao’s fine 18-yard effort dragged Wolves back into the contest, with the 22-year-old fearing he had blown it by skewing wide from an even better chance.
Coady came to his team-mate and Wolves’ rescue, however, nodding home Chiquinho’s cross to floor a stupefied Chelsea.
Lukaku’s first league goals since the 1-1 home draw with Brighton on December 29 took him to 14 for the season in all competitions and into an outright lead as the Blues’ top scorer.
That double should also have driven Chelsea to one big stride towards Champions League qualification – but Wolves showed their battling qualities to earn a point.
Tuchel continued: “I reminded the team to execute the match plan with more precision and we did this to go 2-0 up but then we took more risks. We invited the counter-attacks and big chances. When you do this, you lose confidence and you invite the opponents to smell that something is possible when it is absolutely unnecessary.
“It is not about dropping too low but about the ball structure and losing it in key positions. The opponents had nothing to lose and we had huge chances to score the third goal. The passes were missing and the dribbling was wrong. In some points , we played like we were 2-0 down and not 2-0 up.
“We tried to respond to it by changing the structure. I don’t know if that was the right decision from me but it was a lack of discipline and execution of the match plan.”
Boehly looked confused while both sets of fans vented frustrations with the clunky technology through expletive-laden chants.
Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Boehly’s consortium is only Premier League and Government approval from taking the Stamford Bridge helm, with Abramovich set to sell the Blues after 19 years owning the west London club.
The new Chelsea supremo was only minutes away from revelling in victory but instead was left as stunned as the Blues players that the hosts had failed to wrap up the win.
Tuchel added: “I don’t think ownership is a reason for a lack of focus. I don’t think there is a lack of focus. We showed focus during the situation when it began. I wouldn’t consider this as an advantage now for the match against Leeds. It does not change much for us as the sanctions have not been lifted and the season goes on.
“It seems like the situation has been resolved but it’s not. We’ve got our own things to address, which we haven’t done as a team so far.
“I heard the news today in the morning when I was in the middle of preparing for the match. There has been no difference to what I do which is the best preparation for the match, no matter what’s happening on the outside. I have my routine and I have enough to do. It does not affect me, but the news is positive and we need it to be resolved. “
Roberts: Coady is Wolves through and through
Wolves goalkeeper coach Tony Roberts (who stood in for Bruno Lage after he tested positive for Covid-19) said: “The dressing room is positive. To come here and hold the European champions, the FA Cup finalists, and to go two goals behind, it’s unbelievable.
“The boys are disappointed we’ve not won it. We’ve been to Man Utd and Tottenham and won but we feel we should have had all three here but for a mad five minutes.
“We’ve been through a bad patch but we spoke during the week about the strength and spirit of the group. To go until the 96th minute shows how strong they are. We want to collect as many points as we can qualify for Europe.
“Bruno was watching at the training ground and he was making the decisions. He thought about bringing on pace, power and athleticism. Chiquinho just runs at people and causes problems and we know about the quality of Trincao’s finishing The subs were massive for us in getting the point. “
On Coady’s influence, Roberts added: “He is Wolves through and through. He’s the captain and the leader. He drives the players to get better every day in training. He’s the voice piece on the pitch for the manager. I think he’s scored four goals now this season given he had not scored many before if at all so we’re very happy with him.
“We’re working hard every day – the manager drives it every day with his philosophy. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Every team in the league is the same. We’ve got 50 points and we want to get into Europe as we’ve been there before. That’s our aim. “
Chelsea’s next challenge is a trip to Leeds United on Wednesday night, which is live on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off 7.30pm. The Blues then have the FA Cup final with Liverpool three days later before ending the season with two straight home league games against Leicester City and Watford.
Wolves now turn their attention to hosting title-chasing Manchester City on Wednesday night, which is live on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off 8.15pm. Bruno Lage’s side host Norwich on May 15 before going to Liverpool on the final day of the season seven days later.