Chelsea Advances to UCL Semifinals with 2-1 Aggregate Win over Porto

Blake SchusterContributor IApril 13, 2021

SEVILLE, SPAIN - APRIL 13: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) Christian Pulisic of Chelsea FC and Chancel Mbemba of FC Porto battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between Chelsea FC and FC Porto at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on April 13, 2021 in Seville, Spain. Sporting stadiums around Spain remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Berengui/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Berengui/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Chelsea is one major step closer to capturing its second UEFA Champions League title in club history after knocking off FC Porto 2-1 on aggregate following Tuesday’s second leg. 

Chelsea FC @ChelseaFC

𝗨𝗣 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗖𝗛𝗘𝗟𝗦. 🔵#CHEPOR pic.twitter.com/tf803AXL0a

The victory hands The Blues a berth in the semifinals with PSG, which defeated Bayern Munich on Tuesday. Now the UCL awaits the results of Wednesday’s second leg between Borussia Dortmund-Manchester City and Liverpool-Real Madrid to determine the final four remaining clubs. 

Porto might have been able to stop Chelsea from advancing with a different tactic on Tuesday at Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium. The Portuguese club instead focused on shutting down any opportunities for Chelsea to add to its lead. That seemed fine with the Blues, who appeared more concerned with preserving the 2-0 lead they took on the road than trying to attack Porto’s defense. 

That plan kept the match scoreless through 90 minutes before Porto broke through in the 93rd minute. Perhaps with another 90 minutes to play, Porto’s game plan allows the club to take down their opponent. Instead, it’s Chelsea moving on to the next round.

Porto Targets Pulisic 

It became extremely clear early on Tuesday that Porto’s main goal was to ensure it didn’t get beat by Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic. 

Any opportunity Porto had to crowd the midfielder, disrupt his passes or simply knock him down was quickly taken advantage of. In fact, Porto’s preoccupation with Pulisic became so apparent it’s worth wondering why the team didn't start pushing for a goal earlier in the match—especially as Chelsea’s offense posed little threat and Porto desperately needed two goals to stay alive in the tournament. 

Pulisic would just have to take the attention in stride. 

Squawka Football @Squawka

Christian Pulisic won ELEVEN fouls against FC Porto, the most recorded by a player in a single Champions League game in the past five seasons.<br><br>Absolutely battered. 🤕 pic.twitter.com/sS5pDmfsfa

Nizaar Kinsella @NizaarKinsella

Christian Pulisic is playing like a seasoned #UCL calibre player tonight. That dribbling ability has taken so much pressure off Chelsea. Each time he is fouled, the Blues get space to breath and gather their thoughts, excellent. #CFC #UCL #CHEPOR

The result of Porto’s aggression was hard to miss. Chelsea drew 20 fouls, five yellow cards. 

While Chelsea would remain scoreless on Tuesday, it was still enough to keep their Champions League season alive. Porto put just two shots on net—one resulted in a goal from reserve Medhi Taremi in the 93rd minute—as the Blues escaped with an aggregate victory.

Taremi Bicycle Kick Goal 

Arguably the goal of the Champions League came in the 93rd minute on Tuesday in a game that was all but decided from a substitute who entered the pitch in the 63rd minute. 

Yet none of that makes Taremi’s bicycle kick any less impressive. 

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

A little too late but Mehdi Taremi 😲<br><br>On his 🚲 pic.twitter.com/rCg99NMOMp

Porto had gotten just seven shots off against Chelsea prior to the goal, and only one of them—a weak header from Taremi that keeper Edouard Mendy caught comfortably—reached the net. Mendy was just a minute away from his fifth consecutive UCL clean sheet after allowing just one goal all tournament and none since the knockout rounds began. 

Taremi ended that streak in epic fashion, setting himself up just outside the six-yard box and launching a cross from Nanu over three Chelsea defenders and into the top corner of the net. 

Porto hopes of repeating its unlikely Champions League title run from 2004 will have to wait another season, but Taremi's extraordinary goal should at least provide a consolation prize on the way out the door.

What’s Next

Chelsea await Wednesday’s UCL action to learn who it’ll face in the semifinal round. The Blues are guaranteed a high-profile matchup either way as they prepare to face the winner between Liverpool and Real Madrid