Goals from Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell helped Chelsea pick up a 2-0 victory over Porto in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal tie on Wednesday.
Both legs of the tie will be played at the Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan in Seville, owing to COVID-19 travel restrictions, but Porto were designated as the home side in this fixture.
Chelsea came into this clash on the back of a debilitating 5-2 defeat to West Brom at the weekend. Thomas Tuchel made five changes to his starting lineup. Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Kai Havertz were all handed starts against the Portuguese champions.
The two sides started the game at a high tempo, and the first chance of the game fell to Mateus Uribe, who shot narrowly over the post.
Chelsea broke the deadlock just past the half-hour mark through Mason Mount. The England international controlled Jorginho’s through-ball with his back to goal and evaded the challenge of Chancel Mbemba before slotting a low shot beyond Agustin Marchesin.
Otavio’s audacious attempt at goal directly from a corner-kick was saved on the line by Edouard Mendy, and this proved to be the last goalmouth action in an intriguing first half.
Chelsea had an excellent opportunity to double their lead right at the start of the second period, but Timo Werner headed the ball over from close range. Mendy then produced a stunning save to deny Moussa Marega eight minutes later.
The chance sparked the hosts into life as they continued to create the best chances of the second half. However, Mendy was ready for everything thrown at him.
Porto had a penalty appeal waved away by Slavko Vincic after Marega was seemingly brought down by Cesar Azpilicueta in the box. Replays showed that the Chelsea skipper slightly shoved the Mali international in the back, and he was lucky to escape unpunished.
With the Dragons dominating proceedings in the dying moments, Tuchel made some changes to provide more steel to his side. N’Golo Kante and Thiago Silva came in for Mason Mount and Reece James just before Christian Pulisic struck the post after a driving run.
Chelsea, however, doubled their lead with five minutes to go. A horrendous slip by Jesus Corona allowed Ben Chilwell to run in behind. The defender showed great composure to round Marchesin before slotting into an empty net.
On the overall balance of play, a two-goal victory probably flatters the visitors. They will now turn their attention to the London derby with Crystal Palace this weekend.
Up next for Porto will be a trip to Tondela on Saturday before the return fixture against Chelsea at this same venue next Tuesday.
Here are five talking points from the game.
#5 Chelsea give perfect response to West Brom embarrassment
Chelsea were unbeaten in their first 14 games under Thomas Tuchel, and virtually nobody gave relegation-threatened West Brom a chance against the Blues.
However, an inspired display from Sam Allardyce’s men helped them register one of the biggest shocks of the season, and attention was turned to how the Stamford Bridge outfit would respond.
Wednesday’s game was a tricky one, to say the least. Not only are Porto the defending Portuguese champions, but they also eliminated Juventus in the last round.
Nevertheless, an inspired Chelsea performance saw them pick up a crucial victory which put them in good stead for a first UCL semi-final appearance in seven years.
Despite not performing at an optimum, the West Londoners went back to the basics that have made them so hard to beat under Tuchel. It was far from convincing, but they ultimately got the job done.
#4 The absence of Sergio Oliveira hurt Porto
Sergio Oliveira has been the standout player for Porto this season and is currently the club’s highest goalscorer for the campaign.
The 28-year-old played a starring role in the victory over Juventus, scoring the two away goals that helped the Primeira Liga side secure their spot in the last eight.
However, a yellow card in the first half of extra-time in that fixture ruled him out of this clash. His absence, alongside that of the red-carded Mehdi Taremi, robbed Porto of two of their biggest goal threats.
Porto were the more threatening side and created more chances throughout the game. Had Oliveira and – to a lesser extent – Taremi been present, it is highly likely that they would have converted one of the big chances they created.