HOLDERS CHELSEA EASE INTO QUARTER-FINALS WITH WIN AT LILLE THANKS TO GOALS FROM CHRISTIAN PULISIC AND CESAR AZPILICUETA.
Champions League last 16 second leg, Stade Pierre-Mauroy – Lille OSC 1 (Yilmaz 38’ pen) Chelsea 2 (Pulisic 45+2’, Azpilicueta 71’) Chelsea go through 4-1 on aggregate.
Chelsea have secured their place in the Champions League quarter-finals with a 2-1 victory against Lille at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, giving them a 4-1 win on aggregate.
While the build-up to this match was overshadowed by a maelstrom of speculation about potential takeover bids, Chelsea showed little sign of distraction in the early stages. Lille had a couple of dangerous efforts through Burak Yilmaz, one after Jonathan David had cleverly drawn a foul from Andreas Christensen to set him up for a dipping free kick, but otherwise the visitors set the tempo.
With half an hour gone, Thomas Tuchel’s game plan seemed to be working perfectly. While they hadn’t made too many forays into Lille’s final third, Chelsea had dominated possession and left Lille chasing their tails.
Then, suddenly, the hosts looked to have found a way back into the tie. Christensen went down injured and was replaced by Trevoh Chalobah, whose first act was to earn a booking for hauling down David on the edge of the area.
The ensuing free kick caused chaos in the box and, amid the flailing limbs, Lille midfielder Xeka bundled the ball onto Jorginho’s outstretched arm.
Following a VAR check, referee Davide Massa pointed to the spot. Yilmaz stepped up and, despite Edouard Mendy guessing the right way, he rocketed his penalty into the top corner.
Just when it seemed like Lille had a fighting chance, however, Chelsea delivered a brutal counterpunch. On the stroke of half time, Jorginho played a fantastic through-ball to Christian Pulisic who slotted low past Leo Jardim from a tight angle.
To their credit, Lille didn’t lose heart. Five minutes into the second half, Jonathan Bamba danced past Marcos Alonso out wide before crossing to Yilmaz who left Mendy scrambling to save a header which, after what seemed like an age, fell narrowly wide.
The hosts were centimetres away from restoring their lead when Yilmaz turned provider and found Xeka with a lofted cross, only for his team-mate’s header to hit the post and ricochet away to safety.
In the end, though, Chelsea killed the tie when, after an excellent passing move, Mount picked up the ball out on the left and slashed it across the face of goal to Cesar Azpilicueta at the far post. He hammered home from close range to give Tuchel’s side their fifth win in a row in all competitions.