Thomas Tuchel criticised Chelsea’s attitude after a 3-3 draw with Zenit Saint Petersburg left them facing the prospect of meeting Bayern Munich or Real Madrid in the next round of the Champions League.
An injury-time wonder strike from Magomed Ozdoev cost the European champions top spot in Group H and was the second game in succession that they had conceded three goals.
Tuchel accused his players of lacking concentration and effort after twice allowing leads to slip and made no secret of his frustration as Chelsea’s recent slump continued.
The German has already seen his side slip from first to third in the Premier League after dropping five points in three games – and after Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to West Ham, he hit out at another sloppy performance.
“Maybe we are forgetting why we are the better team because of the investment, the concentration, the level of physical investment was not high enough to be the better team,” he said.
“Once this drops, once we start managing results, we get punished. It happened at West Ham and today. But the reaction was again good and that shows me that it is not about what we can do, because we can do it.
“My analysis is very clear. Our behaviour changes when we have a lead and this is something we never did and should never do. We do the things we want to do at the highest level and we push ourselves until it hurts and it has to hurt.
“You have to be tired at half-time and fully tired. You have to play through physical pain and raise your level of concentration and overcome adversity. Without all this, if you change your behaviour because of a result, you allow the possibility to be punished.
“If you are unlucky enough, like we are at the moment, then it can happen to you. The challenge is to close the door and minimise the possibility. It is very easy, we need a higher level of sprints, a higher level of running, intensity and concentration level.
“It is the basics and the basics need to be pushed onto a higher level while we are in the lead. It cannot drop just because we are in the lead and this is what is happening right now to us. It’s not the big picture, but it is what it is.”
Timo Werner fired Chelsea ahead after two minutes, but goals from Claudinho and Sardar Azmoun saw Zenit go in ahead at the break.
Romelu Lukaku levelled in the second half before Werner looked to have struck an 85th-minute winner. But Ozdoev’s unstoppable strike from 25 yards denied Chelsea top spot.
Tuchel added: “You know if you coach Chelsea and we concede six goals in two matches, we gave the lead away four times in these two matches, then my ambition to talk about individual performances is not so high, because nobody can be happy today, and nobody can be happy in West Ham.
“If you do big mistakes in central positions you get punished by counter attacks because the speed is high, because the quality is high, the technical level is incredibly high. So you need to do your stuff on the highest level.
“If you do it you can have a game like the first 15 minutes. If you don’t do it and the feeling is that this should be okay, you get punished because the level is too high and this is what happened.”