Thomas Tuchel raced down the touchline pumping his fists, there was bedlam among the many supporters fortunate sufficient to be in attendance and up within the posh seats Roman Abramovich wore the widest grin his face may presumably assemble.
Nine years the proprietor has waited to see his membership topped champions of Europe once more, to win the competitors he needs greater than any, and within the moments that adopted Kai Havertz’s first aim within the competitors such a wait can have felt greater than worthwhile.
This was a night during which Chelsea justified lots. The determination to appoint Tuchel in late January when the wheels had been coming off beneath Frank Lampard, a painful determination to half with the membership’s best participant. The shift to a again three. The reintegration of Toni Rudiger. The persistence with Timo Werner and Havertz regardless of tough first campaigns.
It was additionally a night during which the hallmarks of Tuchelball had been all current. They defended outstandingly properly, limiting Pep Guardiola’s staff to one shot heading in the right direction, and may simply have scored extra objectives in the event that they had been extra scientific finishers.
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But none of that feels vital proper now, mere particulars on a well-known night time for the West London membership. When the ultimate whistle went and that they had efficiently withstood the strain, these celebrations had been considerably wilder than the aim. Some gamers fell to their knees. Others ran round like headless chickens. The darkish blue half of the stadium erupted. And Abramovich’s smile was again.
The sport itself was much more open and entertaining than many had anticipated. Guardiola determined to decide a staff and not using a defensive midfielder, looking for to use an additional attacking midfielder as a method to maintain Chelsea penned again, and it was clear that they might search to dominate possession.
Executing that plan was one other matter and there have been instances when it felt just like the Premier League champions had been trying to play positionless soccer. With Oleksandr Zinchenko usually stepping right into a midfield position and Kyle Walker pushing ahead as an auxiliary proper winger, it was unclear whether or not Guardiola had over-complicated issues or just instructed his gamers to take a free jazz method.
City’s first actual alternative got here from a ball excessive as Ederson discovered Raheem Sterling and Reece James recovered properly to concede a nook. But from that second to halfway via the opening half Chelsea appeared the extra probably. Their drawback was that Werner continued the theme of his season by spurning two good possibilities from shut vary whereas firing one other try into the side-netting.
At the other finish Toni Rudiger made an excellent sort out to deny Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez missed a low cross with a late slide and the softest of penalty appeals had been ignored for a Cesar Azpilicueta handball.
It appeared like City had been lastly getting the foothold that they had desired, mild blue shirts squeezing that little bit additional ahead, and Thiago Silva limping off with a thigh damage to get replaced by Andreas Christensen could have emboldened Guardiola’s fees.
Then it occurred. It was actually a easy aim. Werner’s intelligent run to the left pulled Ruben Dias out of place, opening up house for a quick-thinking Mount to play the move. Ederson got here dashing out however Havertz, who had already ghosted previous Zinchecko, was slightly bit faster and rounded the goalkeeper earlier than ending into the empty internet.
The second half noticed City monopolise possession but when there may be one factor Tuchel’s Chelsea have been since late January it’s defensively resilient. Their form remained exemplary, the again 5 compact, Jorginho and N’Golo Kante sitting patiently in entrance.
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And when City did discover a method via the traces, they invariably had somebody in place to carry out a last-second intervention. Cesar Azpilicueta made a vital block to clear a Mahrez flash throughout aim with Ilkay Gundogan ready to faucet it house, Christensen headed one other supply from the Algerian away, Ben Chilwell removed a Sterling cutback.
Chelsea wanted to profit from their forays ahead and with slightly below 20 minutes to go substitute Christian Pulisic narrowly failed to end off one other counterattack with a clipped end that had Ederson overwhelmed but additionally the goalframe.
Nerves grew, the anxiousness was ramped up – absolutely not helped by Tuchel roaring on the followers to increase their voices louder nonetheless – and City customary yet another wonderful likelihood within the ninetieth minute just for Foden’s effort to be blocked by Christensen. There had been groans and howls because the fourth official confirmed seven extra minutes and within the last one Mahrez flashed agonisingly over with Mendy overwhelmed.