Despite defeat in Spain, Tuchel’s Blues cruise into the Champions League semi-final against either Real Madrid or Liverpool.
Having picked up an important 2-0 victory in the first leg of the tie last Wednesday, Thomas Tuchel’s Blues returned to Seville in hopes of making their first Champions League semi-final since 2014.
Chelsea arrived in Spain having never lost a two-legged tie in Europe after winning the first leg away from home. Additionally, Porto have never overturned a two-goal deficit in Europe – leaving the Portuguese champions all the work to do on Tuesday nights clash.
Sergio Conceição named just one change to the side that he listed for last week’s encounter, as Sérgio Oliveira replaced Colombia winger Luis Díaz.
Tuchel however made three changes to the side that beat Crystal Palace at the weekend, with Thiago Silva, Reece James and N’Golo Kanté replacing Kurt Zouma, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mateo Kovačić – with the Croatian midfielder missing out due to a surprise last minute injury.
As expected, the Porto needed to attack Chelsea, which is exactly what they did as they started the opening five minutes on the front foot. Conceição’s side looked sharp, as they looked to edge their way back into the tie.
However, on the 7th minute the first real chance of the game fell for Chelsea – who knew a third goal would have almost guaranteed their place in the competitions final four.
The move came from a brilliant run from the inform Christian Pulisic, who then switched the play onto Mason Mount before testing goalkeeper Augustín Marchesín. The effort on goal was blocked by Chancel Mbemba, with the deflection narrowly missing out on the back of the net as the ball dipped wide for a corner.
Just minutes later, Porto had a glorious chance to eat away at the two goal deficit. A poor outlet pass from Édouard Mendy fell straight at the feet of Jesús Corona – who had a chance to also find his first ever Champions League goal. However, the Mexican’s shot was crucially blocked but Jorginho – saving the Blues from conceding an early goal.
In a game where Chelsea didn’t essentially need to score, the Blues still posed a threat to Porto by countering the Portuguese side’s attacks. In a Chelsea attack stemming from the livewire N’Golo Kanté, Kai Havertz had two attempts on goal – both blocked by the experienced Pepe.
On the 32nd minute Porto had another opportunity to find a way back into the tie, with the chance falling for Corona again. A forewords pass was misjudged by Ben Chilwell, which allowed for the attacker to nudge past him and set himself in on goal. The Mexican international however may have not realised just how much time he had, as he skied his effort way over the crossbar.
Overall, there was a very slow pace to a first half riddled with fouls and a lack of creativity. This suited Tuchel and Chelsea, who were zapping all momentum and energy out of the game.
In the first half neither side managed a shot on target. The work was definitely cut out for Porto in the second half – who had it all to play for. That being said, it was in fact Chelsea who had the first chance of the second half on the 53rd minute.
Following another counterattack, the ball was carried forewords by Mount who then fed Ben Chilwell on the left wing. The England defender then cut the ball across goal, only for a travelling Christian Pulisic to make minimal contact from close range after struggling to adjust his feet.
The Blues also had another chance to seal the deal just minutes later, as Mount saw his goal bound effort blocked by Wilson Manafá.
Now in desperate need of a goal, Porto brought on striker Mehdi Taremi, who could have made an immediate impact just a minute after coming on – but his header was weak and comfortably saved by Mendy.
Porto continued to struggle to break down Chelsea’s determined backline. Conceição’s side did have a flurry of corners on the 79th minute, but they were all comfortably dealt with by Blues’s Antonio Rüdiger.
As the minutes rolled on, Chelsea looked destined to be the first English club to book their place in the final four of Europe’s most elite competition this season. Two minutes into injury time, Chelsea and Christian Pulisic had a chance to put the cherry on top of another solid performance – but the American was denied and should have done better.
The London club were never under any real pressure, until the final minute of the game – when Mehdi Taremi scored a stunning overhead kick to give Porto a glimpse of hope.
Time however wasn’t on their side, and Chelsea did just enough to see themselves over the line and book themselves into the semi-finals of the Champions League.
After the whistle:
Any spectator of the game will tell you the same thing – it wasn’t pretty. There were only three shots on target in the entire game, and two of them came in stoppage time.
Regardless, Tuchel and Chelsea did exactly what they set out to do. The Blues looked well organised and ensured that their European dreams were kept alive to see another day.
Their opponents however didn’t do themselves any favours. Porto lacked creativity and conviction, with Chelsea not looking under any real threat until the very last minute.
The Portuguese side looked out of their depths, with the overall winner of the tie being rightfully deserved following two solid performances across two legs for Tuchel’s Blues.
Next up for Porto is a trip to Nacional on Saturday, whereas Chelsea head to Wembley to take on Manchester City in the semi-final of the FA Cup.
Chelsea 0-1 FC Porto.
- Taremi (90+3’).
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta ©, Silva, Rüdiger; James, Jorginho, Kanté, Chilwell; Mount (86’), Pulisic; Havertz (90+2’).
- Subs: Ziyech (86’), Giroud (90+2’).
FC Porto (4-3-3): Marchesín; Manafá (75’), Mbemba, Pepe, Sanusi; Uribe, Grujić (63’), Oliveira (84’); Corona (75’), Maréga (75’), Otávio.
- Subs: Taremi (63’), Nanu (75’), Díaz (75’), Evanlison (75’), Vieira (84’).
Chelsea (46%) vs FC Porto (54%).
Chelsea (8) vs FC Porto (8).
Shots on target:
Chelsea (1) vs FC Porto (2).
Chelsea (6) vs FC Porto (9).
Chelsea (14) vs FC Porto (20).
- (credit | BBC Sport).
- (credit | BT Sport).
Written by Ryan Bellenie (@BellenieSport).