Ben Chilwell emulates Fernando Torres
Chelsea had very much done a job on Porto as the final whistle approached in Seville. Thomas Tuchel’s side hadn’t been effervescent but they had been effective, scoring through Mason Mount with their only meaningful shot on target.
With an away goal on the board, the Blues would’ve been confident of their chances going into the second leg next week. But then it got a whole lot better.
There was little danger to the Porto defence when Mateo Kovacic lofted a hopeful pass forward with five minutes to play. Jesus Corona should’ve dealt with the ball with ease. Instead, his touch was loose and suddenly there was Ben Chilwell.
With just two touches, the 24-year-old broke into the Porto penalty area and was one-on-one with Agustin Marchesín. It was a moment for composure and the England defender delivered. Chilwell swivelled his hips, took the ball around Marchesín and tapped home into an empty net.
In an instant, countless Chelsea fans were transported back to 2012 as Chilwell’s finish was eerily reminiscent of the one produced by Fernando Torres against Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
The Spaniard’s famous goal that night secured the Blues’ place in the 2012 Champions League final, which, of course, Chelsea went onto win.
Chilwell’s strike doesn’t quite have the same ramifications as that of Torres. But it has put the Blues on the cusp of their first Champions League semi-finals since 2014.
Mason Mount’s historic moment
There is little doubt that Mason Mount will be named Chelsea’s Player of the Year. The 22-year-old has not only been the club’s most consistent performer under Frank Lampard and Tuchel, but he has also raised his game under the latter.
Mount’s strike last night was one of pure class. In one move, he controlled Jorginho’s pass and turne into space. It’s what gave him the time to measure up his shot and then drill the ball beyond Marchesín into the far corner.
“It’s about time it [a first Champions League goal] came,” Mount told BT Sport after the match. “I’ve been waiting patiently. It was a good time for it to come. A good pass by Jorginho and I had space and I hit it.
“I’m always working on it [finishing]. I don’t think you can work on it enough. I think I can improve on it and score more goals.”
The England international’s strike calmed Chelsea, who were poor during the opening 30 minutes. And it gave the Blues a platform from which they could go on and win the match.
Mount also wrote his name into Chelsea history by finding the net. Per OptaJoe, the academy graduate became the club’s youngest goalscorer in a Champions League knockout match at the age of 22 years and 87 days.
Timo Werner’s woes continue
When Tuchel took charge of Chelsea at the end of January, it was hoped the German coach would be able to get the best out of Timo Werner. It hasn’t happened.
Yes, the 25-year-old works very hard for the Blues and is a willing runner behind defences, but that isn’t what Chelsea spent £49.5million for last summer.
They wanted goals, and the fact that Werner has netted only twice in the past five months is a genuine concern.
Admittedly the service he received in last night’s win wasn’t stellar, although there was a good chance for the German star from a Mount cross that he headed over. That was really his lot.
Werner was on the periphery of the game throughout and rarely able to make an impact. It was somewhat damning that when he was replaced in the 65th minute by Christian Pulisic he had touched the ball only 14 times.
The American had far less time on the pitch but did at least manage 17 touches, one of which was a rasping drive that struck the crossbar.
That moment highlighted the threat Chelsea’s other attacking options can pose. The question for Tuchel is how much more time he gives Werner in an attempt to kickstart the forward’s season?
Malang Sarr makes his introduction
The 22-year-old joined Chelsea last summer on a free transfer after leaving Nice. Yet as the centre-back has admitted, the plan was always for him to join the club’s loan army this season.
“I was training with Chelsea before I got loaned,” Sarr told L’Equipe, as per Sport Witness. “The loan was part of the plan.
“I had to be honest with myself, my season ended in March and I wasn’t going to be successful right away with Chelsea. It was the perfect solution because I wanted to do a season at a top club like Porto, to be good and then later take a place at Chelsea.”
Sarr has made 21 appearances for Porto this term, although he hasn’t been able to establish himself as a regular in the heart of defence. And against Chelsea last night, he was on the substitutes’ bench.
UEFA stipulates that loan players can’t be prevented from taking on their parent clubs; it’s why in 2014 the Blues came up against Thibaut Courtois who was then at Atletico Madrid.
Sarr didn’t get on the field against Chelsea last night. Not during the match at least. After the full-time whistle was blown, the defender was quick to offer commiserations to his Porto team-mates before catching up with those at Chelsea.
There were embraces with Edouard Mendy, Ben Chilwell, Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud, and N’Golo Kante, the latter of which he appeared to share a joke with. There was also a chance for Sarr to introduce himself to Tuchel.
There was a fleeting moment between the pair as they shook hands and Sarr will hope to earn a place in Tuchel’s squad when he returns to Chelsea this summer.