Tuchel’s side were without seven key players after Kai Havertz tested positive, joining Ben Chilwell, Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi among those in isolation.
Jorginho was sent home after testing negative, but the Italy midfielder had been experiencing discomfort after playing through the pain barrier against Leeds on Thursday.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek was also left out of the squad due to injury, leaving the west London side down to the bare bones and forcing Tuchel to name a squad of just 17 players, including three goalkeepers.
Kante had been absent since sustaining a knee injury during the victory over Juventus back in November and had only recently returned to training.
But the Chelsea boss has revealed that despite being told to limit the 29-year-old’s game time to one half at the maximum, he proceeded to keep him on for the full 90 minutes.
“We had a strong recommendation [for him] to play 45 [minutes], which we simply ignored and left him on the pitch,” said Tuchel.
“It was not the moment to take one of the world’s best midfielders out of the game because he’s tired.
“So we left him, and he makes the difference all of the time.”
Kante was one of the more influential players on the pitch, explaining why Tuchel was loath to bring off one of his key players.
But his midfield colleague Saul Niguez also made an impact on the game, producing arguably his best performance in a blue shirt so far after struggling since arriving on loan from Atletico Madrid.
And Tuchel, who has fiercely defended the Spaniard in recent weeks, singled him out for praise at the final whistle.
“Yes, he played well today,” Tuchel told Chelsea TV after the match.