Chelsea got a professional win over Porto in Seville, bouncing back from the first loss of the Thomas Tuchel era with a solid 2-0 win to start the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal tie between the Premier League and Portuguese Primera Liga powers.
“We come from a weird match against West Brom, a big loss that we did not expect,” Tuchel said. “We encouraged them to be a bit more active, a bit more brave with the ball. … The goal helped, of course. We made things a bit too complicated. It was tough for us to make the right decisions. You can’t always expect the best game in pressure situations. I’m not sure you can play your best match against Porto. They make you look weak because they play a tough game.”
The second leg, also in Spain, will require Porto to manufacture a multi-goal win of its own against a team that hadn’t allowed much until the 10-man, 5-2 loss to the Baggies at the weekend.
That’ll be difficult if Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy plays as well as he did in the away leg, and if players like Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell continue to seize their rare chances without mercy.
“[Mount’s opener] was an important goal and opened up the game for us and calmed nerves,” Tuchel said. “It wasn’t an easy shot but very precise. I am very happy for Mason, he takes responsibility. Mason is precise with his finishing and always ready to help us.”
Mason Mount speaks on first UCL goal
Mount was very happy with the goal and explained the thinking behind his lightning-quick, smooth turn, and fine finish past Agustin Marchesin.
“After 10 games, I had been waiting for my chance,” Mount said on Paramount Plus. “[Jorginho] played it on my left foot. I knew the player was on my shoulder and I feel like he gambled a bit so I tried to take it on the turn so I could hit it first time. Obviously it came off and I’m very happy with it.”
With the way Chelsea’s been defending, Mount wanted more goals but thought the lone goal might’ve been enough to stand up over 90 minutes.
“At the back recently we’ve been very strong except for one game and I thought we did that very well,” he said. “They had chances but we were blocking and putting our bodies on the line.”
Tuchel explains double sub of Pulisic, Giroud for Havertz, Werner
USMNT winger Christian Pulisic has shown good chemistry with Olivier Giroud, and the pair arrived in this match with 25 minutes to play in Spain.
Tuchel said it wasn’t the best day for Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, and he’s been very clear that he trusts the young American and elder Frenchman off the bench.
“We lost the connection between the seven and the front three,” Tuchel said. “The balls we delivered weren’t the best balls. … Our two German players, Kai and Timo, didn’t play at their highest level today so I wanted to have an impact from the bench. Christian [Pulisic] has had good momentum and [Olivier Giroud] had good memories of the stadium.”
Chelsea went from scoring on its only shot of the first half to out-attempting Porto 5-4 in the second half, as Pulisic smacked a shot off the cross bar moments before Ben Chilwell put the tie to bed.
He’s showing his capacity for producing danger.