Chelsea may have lost tonight, but we won the two-legged tie against FC Porto overall, 2-1, and that’s all that matters at the end of the day. The Blues move on to the Champions League semifinals for the first time in seven years, and in a controlled performance that continues to give confidence that our journey may yet take another step even after this one.
Thomas Tuchel may have insisted that we wouldn’t be looking at the result from the first leg, but it was clear from minute one that both teams were well aware of what was, in essence, a half-time score. Porto came out of the gates with intent and determination to overturn their 2-0 deficit, while Chelsea set up with a defense-first focus and looked to take advantage of counters and quick breaks.
And for 94 minutes, the plan worked to near perfection. Porto had maybe one chance, a self-inflicted error stemming from a poor pass at the back, while Chelsea created several promising counters — neither team taking advantage. And while Mehdi Taremi scored a rather ridiculous goal at the end, Chelsea’s excellent work in the previous 180+ minutes of the tie meant that it was nothing more than consolation.
Tuchel was certainly proud of his players in what was a tough, often attritional fight — Christian Pulisic, you okay, buddy? — against the Portuguese champions.
“We accepted what was needed was a tough, tough fight. Maybe on the television it was not so nice to watch but on the sidelines it was a very intense game, a very fast game.
“It was a tough fight and very hard to play against them [but] we defended well and deserved a clean sheet. We had the better chances - not a lot - but the better half chances. We could not finish it off with a goal so we had to hang in there and the guys did that. Overall we deserved to beat Porto. It was a tough 180 minutes.”
“Part of the performance is to not let the other team perform and we did this today. Until the lucky shot in the last minute we did not concede any chances. We missed some counter-attacks and some touches in the final third to create a little more but we are a young team. We had two guys who scored their first goals in the Champions League in the first leg. We have to accept the circumstances.
“It was a pleasure to watch the fight and be on the sideline with them to see them through.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: BT Sport via BBC
The fight will be even bigger and more important in the next round, be that against Real Madrid or Liverpool. And it will also be great this weekend, in the semifinals of the FA Cup. But that’s why we’re here, to play in the big games and win all the things.