Top Winners and Losers After Wednesday's Champions League Semifinal Leg-2 Results

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVMay 5, 2021

Steve Bardens - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

The UEFA Champions League final is set, and it will be an English Premier League affair. 

Chelsea beat Real Madrid 2-0 on Wednesday and 3-1 on aggregate, clinching a spot in the final, where Manchester City awaits. Timo Werner answered his critics by scoring the opener in the first half, while Mason Mount put the matchup to rest with a late goal in the second half. 

Below, we'll break down the day's winners and losers. 

Winner: N'Golo Kante

There was brilliance from Chelsea's hard-working midfielder—absolute brilliance. 

Squawka Football @Squawka

N’Golo Kanté’s game by numbers vs. Real Madrid: <br><br>100% aerial duels won <br>45 touches <br>4 penalty area entries <br>4 interceptions <br>4 duels won <br>3 chances created (most) <br>2 ball recoveries <br>1 shot <br>1 take-on<br>1 block <br><br>Everywhere. 🌍 #UCL pic.twitter.com/bRbQcfppVf

If any one player controlled this game, it was Kante, with his work rate, positioning and ability to quickly transition play forward. He had "hockey assists" on each goal, with his brilliant turn on the first propelling the Blues forward:

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports


And it was Kante who played Christian Pulisic into space down the right side of the box for the second, allowing the American star to whip a perfect cross to Mount:

Champions League on CBS Sports @UCLonCBSSports

PULISIC. MOUNT. GAME OVER. 💥 pic.twitter.com/8lSODoWeec

It's hardly a surprise that the plaudits flowed freely for Kante after the match. 

Ives Galarcep @SoccerByIves

Really is a joy to watch N'Golo Kante work. Thoroughly outplayed Real Madrid's outstanding midfield throughout the series. He does the work of two players, and makes it look effortless.<br><br>Super Soldier Serum Kante is tough to stop. Man City will have its hands full.

Jeff Borzello @jeffborzello

N’Golo Kante. Big match player. World class. #CFC

Jimmy Conrad @JimmyConrad

N'Golo Kanté is better than your favorite player.

Jonathan Northcroft @JNorthcroft

Kroos + Modric &lt; Kante

He earned every one of them. Chelsea has a number of big-name stars, and the guidance of Thomas Tuchel has changed its season. But don't discount just how important Kante is for this Chelsea side. He's the engine, and the Frenchman fired on all cylinders Wednesday. 

Winner: Christian Pulisic

The aforementioned Captain America had a crucial assist with a brilliant pass to Mount. But the late-game substitute is a winner on Wednesday after moving one step closer to making history as potentially the first American to play in a Champions League final:

Grant Wahl @GrantWahl

Christian Pulisic set to become the first US men’s international to play in a UEFA Champions League final. Already the only one to have a goal and now an assist in the Champions League semifinals.


Pulisic is the youngest player with a goal and an assist in a single UCL semifinal round since 2010-11 👏<br><br>Star ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/FDFHEHMBeB

Maximiliano Bretos @MaxBretosSports

Pulisic passing out dimes!!<br>Chelsea running Real off the park.

Technically speaking, Manchester City backup goalkeeper Zack Steffen could also become the first U.S. player to play in the UCL final. But it's far more likely to be Pulisic.

Given the growing number of United States' players starting or playing at major European clubs, other American players will likely accomplish the feat soon. But it's a major achievement for both U.S. Soccer and Pulisic nonetheless. 

Loser: Eden Hazard

Honestly, it's sort of hard to pick out one loser on the day for Real Madrid, who were just thoroughly outplayed by Chelsea. This wasn't really a case of Los Blancos being unprepared or flat; the Blues were just brighter, faster and more creative, a downright stone wall at the back and a buzzsaw in midfield.

But if there was one player who would have particularly wanted to show up big in this matchup, it was former Chelsea man Eden Hazard in his return to Stamford Bridge. And, well, he was mostly invisible. 

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Hazard off now, for Mariano. Zidane definitely gave him every chance to do something v old team...

Or as Matt Law of the Telegraph put it, "there were none of the jinking runs, the sudden bursts of pace or the footwork that left defenders struggling to stay on their feet. Rather than looking to embarrass his opponents, as he used to do, Hazard more often than not looked for one of his teammates with a safe pass."

It's been a tough season for Hazard, who has struggled through injuries and not looked great when he's been on the pitch. Real Madrid still has a chance to win the La Liga title, so it may not be a lost season for Hazard. But it hasn't been an easy one. 

Winner: Thomas Tuchel

Thomas Tuchel has turned Chelsea's season around, leading the west London club to both the FA Cup and UCL final since taking over midseason. The Blues' disciplined and dominant performance was a reflection of the impact he's had since arriving. 

Melissa Reddy @MelissaReddy_

THIS Chelsea. Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea. What a rapid transformation!<br><br>A team that had defensive errors in their DNA have kept clean sheets vs the biggest guns in the PL and in Europe. <br><br>Real Madrid were restricted to two shots from inside the box, faced 13https://t.co/1OviAjRBHx

Jonathan Northcroft @JNorthcroft

Aside from that crazy day v West Brom, Chelsea have 18 clean sheets from 23 games under Tuchel, and have scored 30 conceded 5.<br><br>City look the best side in the world right now but Chelsea look the hardest to play against. It's some final.

talkSPORT @talkSPORT

At Chelsea, Thomas Tuchel has beaten:<br><br>✅ Zinedine Zidane<br>✅ Pep Guardiola<br>✅ Jurgen Klopp<br>✅ José Mourinho<br>✅ Carlo Ancelotti<br>✅✅ Diego Simeone<br><br>And without conceding a goal against any of them! 👏 pic.twitter.com/M25vNuDS8n

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Some job by Tuchel.

Hey, there's a reason he's in his second straight UCL final after leading PSG there last season. Tuchel is pressing all the right buttons.


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