April 19, 2021

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Chelsea advantage in Champions League quarter-finals as Blues beat Porto 2-0



Chelsea beat Porto 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final to give the Blues an advantage ahead of next week’s second leg.

The first goals of the competition from Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell were enough to triumph over their Portuguese opponents that night at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán stadium in Seville.

Both legs of the game are due to be played at La Liga’s home Sevilla due to ongoing restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic, with this first leg being considered an away game for Chelsea.

Coming into the first leg, Porto have made four changes since their 2-1 win over Santa Clara in the Primeira Liga this weekend. Former Newcastle United defender Chancel Mbemba was one of these, with manager Sérgio Conceição naming the following starting 11:

Port: Marchesín, Manafá, Mbemba, Pepe, Sanusi, Corona, Grujić, Uribe, Otávio, Díaz, Marega

Meanwhile, Chelsea made five changes to their squad following a humiliating 5-2 loss to West Bromwich Albion.

Among the changes, manager Thomas Tuchel chose to reshape his defense with Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma replaced by Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen respectively.

Chelsea: Mendy, Rüdiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Chilwell, Kovačić, Jorginho, James, Werner, Mount, Havertz

It was Porto who started the game on the front foot, and it was the team that seemed most likely to break the deadlock in the first quarter of an hour.

Luis Díaz saw a shot blocked in the box before Mateus Uribe’s strike from the edge of the box went a few inches from the crossbar and landed on the roof of the net.

Uribe did well in controlling the ball and hitting it on the fly, but was not rewarded with a goal for his efforts.

As the 25th minute approached, Chelsea had yet to disturb Porto’s goal and the Portuguese side again had to come excruciatingly close, this time with a free kick.

Swung by Otávio from the left side, the ball seemed to go straight into the net at the near post, but goalkeeper Edouard Mendy pushed it back. Porto center-back Pepe kept him alive and nodded across the goal, but Zaidu Sanusi couldn’t convert and fired a high shot over the goal.

Playing in their red and blue jerseys on the road, Chelsea were in a battle, and they knew it as the Blues began to build their own pressure.

Porto were playing a fairly high defensive line with a level of success, but that ultimately led to their downfall when midfielder Jorginho pierced a perfect ball into Mason Mount’s feet in the 32nd minute after a patient development game.

Mount – one of five players recalled from the starting 11 – creatively turned away from his marker and into the box with a single touch, burying the ball deep into the lowest corner of the net with a strike powerful for its second.

Arguably ‘goalkeeper Agustín Marchesín should have saved him, but Mount’s shot – the first of any Chelsea type on the evening – had Chelsea ahead and gave the 22-year-old his very first goal in the Champions League.

Porto responded well by going behind, and it took a block from César Azpilicueta to prevent Jesús Corona’s volley from seeping into the bottom corner of the net. From the resulting corner, Pepe had a Mendy face.

Liverpool player Marko Grujić also forced a save from Mendy, but at half-time Chelsea were leading 1-0 thanks to his only shot of the game.

Tuchel’s men also had the first chance of the second half. Scorer Mount crossed a ball in the box for Timo Werner to attack but the German failed to get enough power on his header which crossed the bar without any danger.

Conceição’s side weren’t going to take the prone loss and they came back in search of an equalizer. Moussa Marega forced a good save from Mendy after being played behind Rüdiger before Chilwell had to block a shot on the line after a scramble for goal in a corner.

The offside flag went up before Chilwell cleared, but the defender didn’t know it. Díaz then struck away from goal after slipping away from his man, but despite their best efforts on goal, Porto were unable to score.

There was almost an embarrassment for Marchesín when he reversed a long-range strike from Rüdiger on Werner’s path only to get the striker offside. Werner had attempted to square the ball for Kai Havertz to pat at home, which his teammate was unable to do anyway.

Chelsea captain – Azpilicueta – almost became the pantomime villain within minutes as he first missed a close header and then could have given a penalty 20 minutes to go. Marega fell into the box under challenge from the defender, but referee Slavko Vincic dismissed the appeals.

In the middle of the lead role of Azpilicueta, Tuchel had made a double substitution to replace Werner and Havertz with Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud.

Giroud had already scored all four of Chelsea’s goals at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán stadium in their 4-0 win over Sevilla in the group stage of the competition, but it was Pulisic who had the chance to score soon after entering field.

The USA international rocked below the crossbar and with just over five minutes left he felt a missed chance that could cost his side dearly.

However, Ben Chilwell ensured that was not the case almost instantly by doubling their advantage and putting Tuchel’s men in the driver’s seat ahead of next week’s second leg.

A long ball on Mateo Kovačić’s field was poorly controlled by Porto’s Corona and Chilwell took full advantage of it by picking up his opponent’s pocket to come face to face with goalkeeper Marchesín.

Chilwell walked around him and tapped the ball into an empty net to bring it to 2-0. In doing so, like Mount, he caught his own inaugural goal in the competition.

Chelsea had scored twice despite just three shots on target, the only one that didn’t result in a goal being Rüdiger’s previous attempt.

Chelsea saw the game well and followed the clock with a substitution in the finals. Sur came in to replace Kovačić with the referee ending the proceedings very soon after.

So a 2-0 winning margin for Tuchel’s team and an 8e clean sheet in nine games.

Both teams will start again in Seville next Tuesday – 13e April – for Chelsea’s ‘home’ game, but with this performance in the first leg, the Blues are in firm control of the game and can afford to look forward to a semi-final against either Liverpool or Real Madrid.