April 23, 2021

5 talking points as Mount inspires Chelsea to Champions League semi-final brink

5 min read

Mason Mount’s delightful first-half drive and Ben Chilwell’s late strike handed Chelsea a strong advantage in their Champions League quarter-final tie with Porto.

England midfielder Mount turned Porto centre-back Chancel Mbemba with his first touch and rifled into the bottom corner with his second to put the Blues ahead in the 32nd minute with his first Champions League goal.

And wing-back Chilwell punished a defensive error by rounding goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin to double the advantage in the 85th minute, meaning the Blues have one foot in the semi-finals.

Porto had chances of their own and Luis Diaz went closest for the Portuguese club with a powerful effort from range in the second half.

But it was generally a comfortable evening for Chelsea’s defenders and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who were back to their steadfast selves after the shock defeat by West Brom at the weekend.

The result means Chelsea have two vital away goals to take into next week’s second leg, which will also be played in Seville due to coronavirus restrictions.

Here are five talking points from the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.

1. Magical Mount on target again



Mount scored a stunning goal to put Chelsea ahead with just over half an hour played
Mount scored a stunning goal to put Chelsea ahead with just over half an hour played

What a way to open your Champions League account.

Mason Mount proved to be Chelsea’s man for the big occasion once again as he scored a vital away goal to put his side ahead in the first half.

The 22-year-old collected Jorginho’s pass and turned Chancel Mbemba all in the space of one delightful first touch, before finishing like a centre-forward by rifling into the far corner.

Mount isn’t afraid to do the dirty work and clearly harbours ambitions of developing into a complete midfield operator, but his best position may well be the floating attacking midfield role Thomas Tuchel has entrusted him with.

The England international flourishes when he’s able to drift between the opposition’s defensive and midfield lines, and his technical ability – exhibited with his goal – means he is a true joy to watch in those areas.

2. Normal service resumes for Blues backline



Christensen was a commanding presence at the centre of the defensive trio
Christensen was a commanding presence at the centre of the defensive trio

After a humbling home defeat by West Brom on Saturday, Chelsea fans may have been wondering whether their ‘new manager bounce’ had come to an abrupt end.

The Blues let five goals in as they were carved open by the relegation-threatened Baggies, having conceded just twice in their previous 14 games.

But to Thomas Tuchel’s delight, his side were back to their resolute best against Porto.

Andreas Christensen came into the three-man defence alongside Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger, as Thiago Silva – who was sent off against West Brom – dropped to the bench.

Chelsea were grateful for the extra man in the box during an early flurry of chances for Porto, though they were never truly troubled as they always seemed to have numerous bodies to block shots and intercept through-balls.

Meanwhile, wing-backs Ben Chilwell and Reece James were tireless in their tracking back as well as providing vital width for the Blues to break when they won the ball.

Chelsea once again looked like a well-oiled machine without possession, and their defence is surely among the most formidable in Europe.

3. Chelsea’s German aces on the periphery



Havertz appears to be struggling without a clearly-defined role
Havertz appears to be struggling without a clearly-defined role

Last weekend’s anomaly aside, Thomas Tuchel has got the best out of his defenders since his appointment in January.

The same cannot be said of his attackers, however, with the German unable to get his compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz firing as of yet.

The pair – who arrived from the Bundesliga in big-money deals last summer – were arguably Chelsea’s two most ineffective players in the first half. They rarely saw the ball as it was knocked between the Blues’ midfielders and defenders, and watched on as their forward colleague Mason Mount scored a stunning opening goal.

There was some improvement from Werner in the second half and he mustered Chelsea’s second shot of the night – a header which sailed over the bar. The former RB Leipzig man gets himself into good positions from his berth on the left of the front line and he is primed to improve as he continues to adapt to life with the west London club.

Havertz is a more perplexing case, as he is yet to find form as a false nine and Tuchel, like his predecessor Frank Lampard, appears unsure where the 21-year-old’s best position is.

The ex-Bayer Leverkusen ace missed a glorious chance, set up by Werner, to double Chelsea’s lead on the hour mark and Tuchel may be tempted to drop him for the second leg based on recent performances.

Ultimately, it was another disappointing outing for Werner and Havertz, who were both hooked by Tuchel on 65 minutes.

4. Depleted Porto give good account of themselves

Unfortunately for the Portuguese champions, they went into their biggest game of the season without their top-scorers, midfielder Sergio Oliveira and striker Mehdi Taremi.

Nonetheless, Porto considerably outshot their ‘visitors’ and showed much of the resilience and structure which saw them triumph over Juventus in the round of 16.

It took a moment of magic by Mason Mount and a poor error by Jesus Manuel Corona to unlock their defence in either half.

With an aggregate deficit of 1-0, Porto may have felt they still had a chance of progressing, especially with Oliveira returning for the second leg.

But Ben Chilwell’s late sucker punch leaves the Portuguese club with a mountain to climb, and it will take a huge upset next week for them to reach the semi-finals.

5. Chilwell caps Chelsea dominance



Chelsea have a commanding advantage heading into next week's second leg
Chelsea have a commanding advantage heading into next week’s second leg

Also keen to score his first Champions League goal, Ben Chilwell got in on the action in the closing stages.

He picked the pocket of Jesus Manuel Corona and showed fantastic composure to round the goalkeeper and double Chelsea’s advantage in the 85th minute.

Chilwell – along with fellow wing-back Reece James – threatened throughout the first leg and his marauding runs up the left flank were a constant menace for Porto’s defenders.

The desire he showed to put Corona under pressure with just minutes remaining was rewarded and, as mentioned, his goal changes the complexion of the tie, leaving Chelsea hugely confident of reaching the Champions League semi-finals.

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