Mauricio Pochettino ‘can understand’ fan anger as Chelsea players booed off at Middlesbrough

Mauricio Pochettino reacts during his side’s defeat at the Riverside (Reuters)

Mauricio Pochettino said he could “understand” the anger of the Chelsea fans after his players were booed off the pitch by the travelling supporters at the Riverside following a dismal 1-0 defeat to Middlesbrough in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg.

Sections of the Chelsea away end were furious at full time and Pochettino’s team were jeered as they attempted to make their way to applaud them after the final whistle. Thiago Silva was involved in heated discussions with some fans, although the veteran defender was mostly applauded by the Chelsea supporters after he was only one of three players - along with Levi Colwill and Armando Broja - who stayed to show their appreciation.

It came at the end of a woeful night for Pochettino and his players as Hayden Hackney handed Championship side Middlesbrough a first-leg lead to take to Stamford Bridge in 15 days time. Cole Palmer missed a hat-trick of first-half chances for the Blues, who failed to create any further opportunities after the break despite dominating possession against Michael Carrick’s team.

The result was Chelsea’s 21st away defeat in all competitions since the start of last season -  no other team has lost more among Premier League sides - and Pochettino, who has only been in charge since the start of the season, said he could appreciate why the Chelsea supporters were so frustrated at full time

Pochettino, who said he did not hear the booing at full time, told Sky Sports: “I can’t say anything about [the boos] but of course we can understand why our fans will feel disappointed but there’s still 90 minutes to play.”

On Chelsea’s performance, the Argentine said: “Today, the approach was good. We can’t say anything about the attitude but we made mistakes in the first half and gave chances for them to score. They were aggressive and played on the transition. It was hard to break down this block.

"We had too many chances to score and that’s football. It’s only the first half of the tie and we have another 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge so we have to be positive.

"We made some mistakes and we were punished for that. We have to keep pushing as if we assess the performance, overall we were the better side, created clear chances. We weren’t clinical and that’s happened a lot in the six months across many games.

"We have 15 days [before the second leg] so we can recover some players. We’re now thinking about Fulham and we will move on."

Boro boss Michael Carrick said: “I thought the lads were exceptional, outstanding – effort, spirit was just off the scale, I’m just so, so proud of them. It was an incredible night.

“Football’s about dreaming, things happen in cup competitions. Tonight shouldn’t probably have happened and we found a way to make it happen – the boys were incredible.

“We’ll go down there with our eyes wide open and know what to expect but it doesn’t stop us from trying.”