Mason Mount and a wonderful individual goal by Ben Chilwell have put Chelsea into the box seat to reach the Champions League semi-final, after the west Londoners beat Porto 2-0 in the 1st leg quarter-final in Seville tonight.
Mount drove home a low shot in the first half, while Chilwell reacted quickest to latch onto a loose ball, round the goalkeeper and tuck the ball home into an empty net five minutes from time.
This was not a spectacular aggressive, attacking play by the Blues, but they did more than enough to absorb pressure, not commit silly basic errors at the back and take the few chances on offer.
It was the perfect response to the humiliation of the 5-2 home defeat in the Premier League to WBA at the weekend.
The early exchanges were nip and tuck, but the home side gradually exerted greater control on possession, pushing the Blues back.
A series of corners almost saw Porto snatch a goal on 23 minutes, but Mendy managed to hook the ball off his goal-line.
But the away side took the lead on 32 minutes, and it was a brilliant effort by midfielder Mount. He picked up a deft ball by Jorginho, caressed it at the edge of the Porto penalty area, turning the defender in the process and then drove a daisy-cutter across the path of goalkeeper Marchesin and into the far side-netting.
The Portuguese outfit responded well and three minutes from half-time Mendy was forced to dive to his left to parry away a header from Pepe.
Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel kept the same side for the start of the second half.
Timo Werner had the first chance two minutes in, but he headed over the Porto crossbar from a clipped Mount pass.
But again Porto responded well with Luis Diaz seeing his low, right-footed curler inches wide of Mendy’s left upright.
Kai Havertz was fortunate that Werner was adjudged to be offside on 60 minutes when Havertz slide the ball wide of an gaping, open goal after Werner cut the ball back to the in-running false No9.
Cesar Azpilicueta then missed a sitter when he latched onto a Reece James free-kick, but the defender somehow screwed his diving header wide.
Tuchel decided that he needed to make changes with Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic coming on for misfiring Werner and Havertz.
Porto continued to dominate possession, forcing Tuchel to make another double substitution on 80 minutes – on came N’Golo Kante and Thiago Silva, off went Mount and James.
Chelsea thought they had doubled their lead when Pulisic crashed a thumper of a shot against the Porto crossbar.
But seconds later on 85 minutes, left wing back Chilwell took advantage of a lose ball, and raced clear, he then dragged the ball past Marchesin, and tapped home a right-footer, into the empty net.
They return to league action on Saturday when they travel to South London to face Crystal Palace.
Teams: Chelsea, Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Chilwell, Mount, Werner, Havertz
Subs: Kepa, Alonso, Silva, Kante, Abraham, Pulisic, Caballero, Zouma, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech, Emerson
Porto, Marchesin, Manafa Janco, Mbemba, Pepe, Sanusi, JM Corona, Grujic, Uribe, Otavio, Marega, Diaz
Subs: Monteiro Pinto Leite, Loum, Maria’s Ramos, Silva Baro, Neto Lopes, Felipe Anderson, Martinez, de Lima Barbosa, Chipela Gomes, Sarr, Vieira, Conceicao,
Referee: Slavko Vincic
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.