Chelsea defeat Lille 2-0 in UCL last-16 tie: Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic scored for the Blues as the Uefa Champions League(UCL) holder seize control of the tie.
In-depth match report as goals in either half from Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic give Chelsea the advantage in the first leg of their Uefa Champions League(UCL) last-16 tie with Lille; Romelu Lukaku settled for the bench all through the game following his strange show against Crystal Palace
Chelsea took control of their Uefa Champions League(UCL) last-16 tie with Lille after a 2-0 win in the first leg at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, thanks to goals from Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic.
Chelsea defeat Lille 2-0 in UCL last-16 tie first leg at Stamford bridge, German international Kai Havertz and American international Christian Pulisic scored both goals in either half.
Thomas Tuchel chose Kai Havertz to lead the line in place of the much-maligned Romelu Lukaku, and the German star could have had a hat-trick within the first ten minutes. First, his outstretched toe couldn’t complete César Azpilicueta’s low cross, before Léo Jardim pushed his bending left-footed curler around the post.
Chelsea has scored more goals from corners than any other club in the Uefa Champions League this season, and the former Bayer Leverkusen forward got the breakthrough from the ensuing set-piece, heading in Hakim Ziyech’s corner to his manager’s delight.
The ‘Blues’ have won their last four UCL games on home turf without conceding a goal, but Havertz’s opener seemed to calm Lille down, as Renato Sanches began to command play from central positions, with Jonathan David splitting the lines whenever he could.
Chelsea had a worrisome record of four consecutive last-16 exits in this competition before winning the 2021 edition, but they are no strangers to defying expectations, and they tightened their hold on this tie midway through the second half. N’Golo Kanté raced forward before neatly passing to Christian Pulisic, who hoisted the ball over the onrushing goalie and into the far corner of the net to increase the hosts’ advantage.
The Uefa Champions League holders have already won two trophies this season, and with a chance to win a third in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final, they have put themselves in a strong position to reach the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier club competition before their trip to Lille next month.
Meanwhile, after being crowned champions last season, the visitors’ poor form in Ligue 1 continues with this result. They are currently 11th on the table. Just before kick-off, the Club World Cup was paraded around Stamford Bridge by the injured trio of Ben Chilwell, Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi, much to the delight of those already in their seats. They did get a soaking from the sprinklers for their troubles, though!
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel made three changes to his Chelsea team, with the major pre-match talking point centred around the non-inclusion of Romelu Lukaku. Kai Havertz led the line in his place, flanked by Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech.
Due to Tuchel’s predilection for a 3-4-3 formation, Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta were reassigned to wing-back. The centre defensive trio was Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, and Toni Rudiger.
In midfield, Kovacic replaced Jorginho, and there was encouraging news in the form of Mason Mount being fit enough to sit on the bench.
The visitors started Renato Sanches, a former Swansea player, as well as promising youngster Amadou Onana. He was in a no.10 position behind Jonathan David, the team’s lone striker. Sanches and Jonathan Bamba offered help from out wide.
ENOMAOMORUYI MAN OF THE MATCH:
Thomas Tuchel’s reaction after the match…
“We had very strong periods in the first 10 minutes but we also had periods when it was totally gone from one minute to another. Sometimes there was a lack of fluidity and decision-making but we recovered from it.
“It’s the story at the moment but there were many good things. If we can make the good minutes longer with a bit more consistency, this is the next step. This was a very well prepared opponent today, they were very physical. We didn’t allow big chances and this was the feeling throughout the whole match.”
On Kai Havertz, Tuchel disclosed: “I’m really pleased for Kai. His effort, his work rate and the volume of the areas of the pitch he covers for us are immense and very good. He’s never shy of defending. We had a very aggressive high line with Hakim. The formation was set to have intensity with a high work consistently throughout the match and they all did very well.
“It was another clean sheet and a well-deserved clean sheet. It was hard work to not allow chances to a strong team. It was a bit up and down, some very good moments, some weaker moments, some unforced errors, but we never gave big chances away.
“It is almost like the story of the season: every second game we do substitutions only because of injuries and not because of tactical reasons. It follows us. There are a lot of days for us to recover [for Sunday]. Let’s see, I hope the guys will be ready for Sunday.”
Man of the match Kai Havertz spoke to BT Sport…
“We knew that it was a difficult game, they played good football and the first half was very difficult for us. Now it is half-time and the next game we have to win as well.
“I always give my best also in the Premier League, sometimes you have more luck, sometimes you don’t and I help where I can.
“It is good for me (playing advanced forward). We have a lot of good strikers so it is also good to have a change and not make it easy for the opposition. Today it worked good and I enjoy every forward position.
“We did not play our best football, we could not get the aggressiveness of the last few weeks but we won 2-0 and that is the most important thing. Sunday is another competition and we have to focus on that now.
“It is crazy, we have a lot of chances to win another trophy on Sunday, it will be a tough game. We will put all our strength together and hope we win this game.”
Opta Stats Chelsea and Lille
12 – Chelsea's 37-year-old centre-back Thiago Silva won possession 12 times tonight against Lille, the most he's ever done so in a Champions League match, with tonight his 94th appearance in the competition. Rock. pic.twitter.com/UhLL840KzP
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 22, 2022
- Since Real Madrid in May 2016, Chelsea is the only team to win five consecutive home Champions League matches without conceding (six in a row). They are the first English team to do it in either the European Cup or the Champions League.
- Lille has now lost all five of their Champions League games against English teams (two vs Man Utd, three vs Chelsea).
- Chelsea has maintained 39 clean sheets in all competitions since Thomas Tuchel took over in January last year, at least nine more than any other team in Europe’s big five leagues (Sevilla and Man City, 30).
- In the Uefa Champions League (D1), English teams have already won 14 of their past 15 home matches, dating back to May of last year (Man City 2-0 PSG). English teams have won 20 of their 27 matches (D3 L4) in this season’s tournament, seven more than any other nation has won in 2021-22.
On Sunday, Chelsea will face Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final, kickoff @ 4.30 pm. Lille will face Lyon in Ligue 1 at 7.45 p.m. on Sunday.
The Uefa Champions League last-16 tie 2nd leg is scheduled for Wednesday, March 16 @ 8 p.m. at Stade Pierre-Mauroy.