Chelsea returned to Sevilla six days later and returned to the Champions League semi-finals seven years later. A 2-0 win over Porto here last week ultimately proved enough, with Thomas Tuchel’s side returning to the same stadium to defend that lead and their advantage in the next round, where either Real Madrid or Liverpool await. They may be entitled to believe that the journey can also continue; There will be more difficult tests but they are not an easily defeated or distracted team, even though they were denied another clean sheet by an extraordinary last minute goal from Mehdi Taremi.
It had never been in doubt until then, and suddenly there was a nervous moment when Porto called for a penalty immediately after the goal. But while it briefly got on the nerves, it was too late for Chelsea to suffer for long. Before the ball passed in front of Édouard Mendy, Porto had only occasionally threatened.
Porto’s chances of coming out of the tie were effectively eliminated with Ben Chilwell’s late goal in a first leg where they should have gotten more, putting the tie beyond Taremi’s kick to the top. end of the second.
Porto may wonder how things could have been different if Taremi had played more than 30 minutes in the two games or if that moment of magic had come a little earlier. Chelsea will feel that although they got caught in the end, they were in control of the proceedings on a night when there was not much going on, which was fine for them.
It’s a team with some limitations, more like a team with a plan. Do not lose your mind, Tuchel had urged his players, and they did not. This was hardly likely when their natural style suited this scenario, organization above adventure. And even though Porto’s first lead in their zone took just 43 seconds, Chelsea were confident they could keep their opponents at bay.
Mostly, they did. Porto started off brilliantly, if not completely, Jesús Corona was mobile and eager to run to the right and Moussa Marega was a presence in the area, building up a battle with Antonio Rüdiger. Marega’s first shot was scuffed, however, an echo of the first leg.
And like last Wednesday, Chelsea were comfortable waiting for their moment to take off, whether it was a first three ball or the impressive Ngolo Kanté rushing to carry it.
Christian Pulisic tracked down Mason Mount, whose shot was deflected over the bar before Kanté knocked them out twice. The first time around, he ran almost to the starting line, transformed Wilson Manafá and set up Pulisic to roll so Reece James shot wide. The runner-up saw him release Kai Havertz into the zone, forcing Pepe to dive before the attacker.
At the other end, Corona had Porto’s best opportunities, the first a rare gift from Chelsea, with Mendy playing the ball right to his feet and forcing Jorginho to react quickly to save the day and turn away from the shot. difference.
Corona’s second chance came when he took down a high ball and turned Chilwell into a smart move. Now behind the Englishman, Corona could have continued, but the ball picked up, asking to be kicked, so he did. He flew in the Pride of London banner in the empty booth.
The blows were few, the stops numerous. As half-time came and went, Porto had a decision to make: when would they risk exposing themselves to the goal that would put an end to it to seek more insistently who would really place them there? How long before the introduction of Taremi?
He made an entry within the hour, and was almost immediately at the end of a neat move from Corona and Otávio, with Mendy diving low to save his head. Porto needed this, if only to believe it was possible. But the ball wouldn’t fall back to Taremi until it was too late.
Porto started the second half brilliantly, pressing higher, but largely confined themselves to hopeful crosses.
Chelsea worked the ball extensively well, retaining possession and sometimes incisive when attacking, which was more often now. Pulisic was unable to get full contact on Chilwell’s reduction by the six-yard box. Then Kanté played Mount in the zone, Manafá blocking as the striker pulled the trigger. Then Pepe blocked Pulisic.
Porto continued to search, albeit with little clarity, with Sérgio Conceição making a triple change in search of something. Chelsea’s defense remained a formidable barrier and their attackers still a threat.
Thiago Silva stretches for a close clearance at one end and Pulisic could have ended it in the 93rd minute at the other, before Taremi leaps in to crush an astonishing kick into the net.
It was the best moment of the meeting, a small reward for a team that deserved more but it did not alter its outcome or prevent the passage of Chelsea.