Champions League: Chelsea beat Lille 2 – 1 to sail through. Thomas Tuchel wants Chelsea to be the side everyone wants to avoid in the Champions League quarter-final draw after the holders beat Lille at a lively Stade Pierre-Mauroy to secure a 4-1 aggregate win.
The Blues took a 2-0 first-leg lead to France but, in a match played amid continued uncertainty over the club’s future, they had to come from behind after a slow start to earn success in the return.
Burak Yilmaz pulled Lille back into the tie with a penalty after Jorginho handled, only for Christian Pulisic to reply in first-half injury time. Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta then put the last-16 encounter beyond the French champions when he finished at the back post with 19 minutes remaining.
Tuchel’s side will find out their last-eight opponents in Friday’s draw. “I want us to be the team nobody wants to play,” said Tuchel. “That’s the role we see ourselves in this last round of eight.
“It’s a big step to do it again and again – and that is why we fight for top-four places in maybe the toughest league in the world and we fight now again in the top eight teams [in Europe]. “This brings out the very best in us.”
Blues through despite off-field issues
It was something of a passive performance from the Blues as Lille harried and pressed with intent, though the Premier League outfit were able to maintain control and show their quality when needed.
Developments regarding the club’s ownership continued to play out during the game as it was announced Lord Coe has joined a consortium led by ex-Liverpool chairman Sir Martin Broughton to buy the club, while former Chelsea striker Gianluca Vialli said he is working with Nick Candy on his bid.
Earlier the Ricketts family, who own Major League Baseball team the Chicago Cubs, confirmed they are leading a group of investors which will make an offer by Friday’s deadline.
Whether those off-field matters were a distraction or not, it was Lille who got a deserved 38th-minute opener following a bright start in which they made life uncomfortable for Chelsea.
Yilmaz placed his spot-kick in the top corner after Jorginho handled, with referee Davide Massa awarding the penalty after being told to view the pitchside monitor by the video assistant referee.
But to Chelsea’s credit they responded quickly and Jorginho made amends with a neat pass into Pulisic, who finished from a tight angle to dampen Lille’s renewed hope.
Xeka did head against the post for the hosts in the second half, but when Azpilicueta guided Mason Mount’s whipped ball in with his knee, the tie was over.
Chelsea will now wait to see what happens off the field, with Uefa also saying on Wednesday it was seeking clarification from the European Union on future Champions League matches involving the Blues after sanctions were imposed on Russian owner Roman Abramovich.
Abramovich, who is understood to have strong ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin, has had his assets frozen by the UK government and Chelsea have had to obtain a special licence to continue operating.
That has brought with it spending caps, though the club’s players and staff were able to fly to Lille for the game because those arrangements were already made prior to the sanctions.
Meanwhile, the Three logo was displayed on Chelsea’s changed yellow strip during the fixture despite the company saying it has requested the club finds a solution to remove it.
So while it may not have been a vintage performance, boss Tuchel will be pleased his side kept their focus and still have a chance to add to last season’s Champions League triumph.
Source – BBC News