Chelsea bounce back from defeat thanks to victory over Porto

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Thomas Tuchel’s Blues returned to their winning ways after beating Porto 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

Fans were looking for a response after Saturday’s embarrassing loss in the Premier League, which saw relegation threatened West Brom turn up to Stamford Bridge and humiliate 10 man Chelsea 5-2.

Away goals from England duo Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell have given Chelsea an advantage heading into the second leg, which is to be played next Tuesday.

Due to the COVID restrictions between the Portuguese and UK governments the game was played in Sevilla’s ground, the Roman Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium. The reverse fixture will also take place here.

Chelsea made five changes to the team that started against West Brom. Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger returned to the back three, with Cesar Azpilicueta captaining the side for the 150th time.

Chilwell was selected over Marcos Alonso, Mount replaced Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz was brought in for Christian Pulisic.

The Blues’ opponents were not to be underestimated. Porto had knocked out two time winners Juventus to secure themselves a place in the last eight of the competition, beating them on away goals after a dramatic second leg.

It took Chelsea a while to get into the game, with Porto pressing well up the pitch in the hope of causing a defensive error from the Blues’ backline.

The Portuguese side were without their two top scorers for the season, Sérgio Oliveira and Mehdi Taremi, who were both suspended, but they will be available for selection in the second leg.

Porto had the best chances to open the scoring, with the Blues failing to register a shot in the opening half hour. They were making the most of their set pieces, with an in-swinging corner testing the hands of Edouard Mendy before the rebound was fired over the bar by Zaidu Sanusi.

Chelsea struggled to show any threat up front until the 32nd minute. Midfield general Jorginho picked out Mount, who did brilliantly to turn away from his man and fire low past the keeper into the bottom corner, giving Chelsea that crucial away goal they so desperately wanted.

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That was the 22-year-old’s fifth goal under Tuchel and it strengthened his case once again for being a key member of England’s squad for the Euros this summer.

Porto were looking for an immediate response after the goal, with Pepe being denied by Mendy from yet another corner. The Blues defended well, and headed into the break 1-0 up.

The Dragões started the second half as they did the first by pressing the Chelsea defence and they had a chance to equalise early on. Moussa Marega nearly punished Rudiger down the right, only for Mendy to get down low and save his attempt. Luis Días was the next to threaten the Blues’ goal, but his shot from the edge of the box went narrowly past the post.

Soon after though, Tuchel’s side began to attack again. An audacious shot from Rudiger was fumbled by Porto keeper Agustín Marchesín and Werner squared it to Havertz, but he was unable to score. However, a goal wouldn’t have counted as the Chelsea no.11 was in an offside position.

After a busy opening few minutes of the second half, neither side had any clear cut chances. As the game approached its conclusion substitute Pulisic saw his effort rattle against the woodwork, the American unlucky not to have scored his second goal in two games.

However, just five minutes from full time, the win was secured for the Blues. Mateo Kovačić saw an opportunity for a chance down the left side of the pitch, only for his pass to be intercepted by Jesús Manuel Corona. He failed to control it well and Chilwell was able to pounce on the error and make a darting run towards goal. The England left-back rounded the keeper and tapped it into an empty net, thus scoring Chelsea’s important second goal.

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The final whistle soon came and the Blues were victorious in a Champions League quarter-final game for the first time since 2014. Having scored two away goals, Chelsea are one step closer to the semi-finals of club football’s biggest competition. They will return to Seville next week to complete the tie, this time being the home side.

Up next for the Blues is Crystal Palace away this weekend. Last night’s impressive response to Saturday’s embarrassment will surely boost the squad’s confidence as they continue to challenge for a top four finish.

It wasn’t their best performance but at this stage of the season it is all about getting results, and they did just that.

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