Thomas Tuchel equalled a Champions League record as Chelsea booked their place in the quarter-finals thanks to a 4-1 aggregate win over Lille.
The defending European champions took a 2-0 lead into the second leg thanks to goals from Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic at Stamford Bridge last month, appearing to put them in control of the tie.
But Lille started the second leg brightly and took a deserved lead on the night from the penalty spot, with Burak Yilmaz converting after Jorginho had been penalised for handball.
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The lead lasted just seven minutes though as Pulisic equalised in first-half injury time, slotting into the bottom left corner from a tight angle following a lovely pass from Jorginho. It was the American’s fifth goal for Chelsea in the Champions League, three of which have now come in the knockout stages.
Lille recovered after half-time and were once again the better side but Cesar Azpilicueta provided the killer blow with 20 minutes to go, arriving at the far post to knee in Mason Mount’s cross – the Englishman’s 10th Chelsea assist of the season. Mount is the first player to reach double figures for assists at Chelsea in 2021/22, and he’s three clear of his closest teammate Reece James.
Not only did the 2-1 win secure Chelsea’s spot in the quarter-finals, but it also helped Tuchel join a Champions League legend in the history books. In what was his 50th Champions League game as a manager, Tuchel secured his 32nd win in the competition, with no one managing more (level with Jupp Heynckes who hit 32 in 47 matches managed).
Tuchel did beat Zinedine Zidane’s record of 31 in his first 50 games, and former Chelsea player Joe Cole is a massive fan.
“He is such an impressive individual,” Cole told BT Sport before the game.
“Every time I meet him I’m impressed. I wondered what Thomas Tuchel I was going to get obviously, and he come out and he answered every question, and he was forthright and he was honest.
“You can tell he exudes that passion for football. I’m sitting there and I was interviewing him, and I was mesmerised. In my mind, he’s answering and I’m thinking ‘I would love to have played for you.’
“We’ve played for some great managers but the way he talked about the situation and when he talked about his happiest place being coaching and when he looked around and he saw a good group of people. It’s all about the group with him.”
“He’s a leader, he stands up when he’s made right decisions and wrong decisions, he’s tactically so astute,” former England Womens star Fara Williams added after the match.
“When he sets his teams up, he reads the game well, he knows when to make the changes. Today’s an example of making a change at the right time to change the tempo of the game, to change the momentum on the game. In bringing Mount on, it flipped the game on its head.”