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