Chelsea’s made its first UEFA Champions League semifinal in seven years after a 1-0 second-leg loss to Porto on Tuesday sent the Blues through 2-1 over two legs.
It wasn’t a lot to look aside from a wonderful stoppage-time goal from Porto’s Mehdi Taremi, but Chelsea was there to deliver on the promise of the first leg.
Mason Mount and the Blues did just that, covering plenty of ground and weathering foul after foul from Porto; The “visitors” in Sevilla dealt out 20 fouls to the “hosts,” including 11 to Christian Pulisic.
Mount expresses Chelsea’s new confidence, faith in Tuchel
Mount was asked about the ugly nature of the game as well as manager Thomas Tuchel’s big ask of the front three.
“Performance was at the back of our heads and getting to the Champions League semifinals was at the front,” Mount said, later adding, “We had a few [chances]. I had a couple. The most important thing was defending strong. We knew that as a team and us three up top — me, Kai, and Christian — we knew we had to work our socks off the whole game, keep going. We made some subs and the boys on the bench did that also. We were together as a team tonight.”
Now Chelsea can turn their heads toward the next of a series of tests — Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal versus Man City, a seven-match Premier League stretch to determine possible top four status, and at least two more UCL matches come April 27 and May 4 versus Liverpool or Real Madrid. The perennial European powers meet at Anfield on Wednesday with Real leading 3-1 after on leg.
“We’re buzzing,” Mount said. “We’re in a good position at the moment. We know we’re playing well but the focus going into every single game is 100%. We know we have big, big games coming up, especially the next game, semifinal, FA Cup, Man City. We’re going into every game feeling like we’re going to win.”
Mount also credited Tuchel with the team’s identity, locked into two semifinals and with just one loss under the German.
“He’s had a big impact,” Mount said. “It’s difficult to come in midway through the season but he’s had a big impact on all the players. We know from Day One what he wanted and we all implemented it in the game.”
"So who do you want in the semi-final then?" 😂
Nice of you to join us, @masonmount_10! 👋
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 13, 2021
Tuchel happy to be there
As for Tuchel, the German is bidding to reach the UEFA Champions League Final for the second time in as many seasons after leading Paris Saint-Germain’s road to runner-up status in 2019-20.
His Blues were resolute on Tuesday.
“We rely on solidarity, discipline, courage,” Tuchel said, via Football.London. “It was a big challenge, playing a proud team that has a lot of titles. They deserve to be here. These are moments to learn, accept, now we can make this experience together. We are very happy to be in the last four. … We can rely on a hard-working young group who are brave enough to accept a challenge.”
And of course semifinal status is nice for Tuchel but this is not a club that expects to come up short in any competition.
Chelsea had been a runner-up or champion in at least two competitions for two-straight years before making it to just one final last season. The club’s last season without a final or first-place finish was the 2013-14, when they finished UCL semifinalists.
Still, there is experience to be had and wisdom to be earned by the Blues, whether they can claim a trophy or not. It was Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell bagging their first UCL goals in the first leg and there will be more firsts to come if Chelsea is to proceed toward silverware.
“When you look on the scoresheet last week, you saw two players who scored their first goals in the competition,” Tuchel said. “When you look at Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Benzema or Salah score, it is their 50th or 100th goal or something. We arrived with a very young team. … We want a young team to turn it around. What a young team can do is run, fight, and hang in there. It is an adventure for them. It is a big step to be here.”