Chelsea Top Atletico Madrid 3-0 on Aggregate, Advance to UCL Quarterfinals

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2021

Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech, right, celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the Champions League, round of 16, second leg soccer match between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid at the Stamford Bridge stadium, London, Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Chelsea is moving on to the quarterfinal stage of the UEFA Champions League after securing a 2-0 victory (3-0 on aggregate) over Atletico Madrid in the second leg Wednesday at Stamford Bridge. 

A stunning 68th-minute goal from Olivier Giroud in the first leg put the Blues in control heading into the home fixture.

Atletico struggled mightily in that match, Diego Simeone's defensive style coming back to bite the club as it failed to put a single shot on goal. Giroud's strike meant Atleti had to be more proactive in the return clash to have any hope of moving on.

They got a taste of their own medicine in the 34th minute.

Chelsea quickly dispelled the danger following a Koke free kick. Because Atletico had thrown so many men forward on the set piece, they were ripped apart on the counter. Kai Havertz found Timo Werner down the left flank, and Werner's low cross was perfectly placed to Hakim Ziyech.

B/R Football @brfootball

Havertz ➡️ Werner ➡️ Ziyech Chelsea's summer signings combine to put them up 2-0 on aggregate 😎 (🎥 @UCLonCBSSports) https://t.co/tezWXmrauk

That Havertz, Werner and Ziyech combined for the goal will have been a pleasant sight for supporters.

The three haven't lived up to expectations since arriving in the summer, with Havertz and Werner, in particular, failing to deliver early returns on their £119.5 million in combined transfer fees. The opener was an illustration of what they can do together.

Nico Cantor @Nicocantor1

Havertz in the “Mount role” looks great. Dropping deeper and touching the ball a lot As he floats, Werner can play as ST. He can also drift wide left, leaving Atleti CBs without a target. Ziyech looks comfortable. Either wide or central (Havertz plays infront of him). Very fluid

In general, the second leg played out much as the first one did. Even with the clear need to score, Atletico was unable to break Chelsea down, and the Blues' high press prevented Simeone's squad from making much progress into the final third.

Stefan Savic received a red card in the 82nd minute for delivering an elbow to the rib cage of Antonio Rudiger. His dismissal effectively put the finishing touches on the result.

Emerson eliminated any doubt when he doubled Chelsea's lead in the fourth minute of injury time, almost immediately after he entered the match for Havertz.

Luis Suarez has made a big impact in his first season at the club, scoring 18 goals in 24 La Liga matches so far. For whatever reason, the Uruguayan striker continues to be anonymous in continental matches away from home.

B/R Football @brfootball

Luis Suarez extends his away leg goal drought in the Champions League to 25 games 😬 https://t.co/khaciosxMI

Richard Jolly @RichJolly

Martin Demichelis has scored an away goal in the Champions League more recently than Luis Suarez.

Atletico Madrid isn't as moneyed as some others near the top of the European pyramid, but its collective showing in the round of 16 was disappointing.

Chelsea now awaits the results of Friday's quarterfinal and semifinal draw to learn of its path to Istanbul for the final on May 29. 

The Blues haven't been firing on all cylinders—Saturday's 0-0 draw with Leeds United serving as a case in point—but their form has improved since Thomas Tuchel came aboard. They've yet to suffer a defeat with the German on the touchline.

Perhaps the stars can align for Chelsea to enjoy a European triumph.


What's Next?

Chelsea hosts Sheffield United in the FA Cup quarterfinals on Sunday. Atletico is in action the same day in La Liga against Alaves, when it will hope to at least retain its four-point lead on second-place Barcelona.