Chelsea defeated Borussia Dortmund 2-0 on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League and relieve some of the strain on head coach Graham Potter. Chelsea got off to a quick start in their attempt to erase a 1-0 deficit from the first leg three weeks prior in Germany, but they were forced to wait for Raheem Sterling’s 43rd-minute goal to break the tie.
Kai Havertz converted a penalty in the second attempt in the 53rd minute to secure a 2-1 victory overall. Referee Danny Makkelle was ordered to monitor by VAR representative Pol Van Boekel to assess a handball by Marius Wolf, and the spot kick was then given. Havertz’s initial shot hit the post, but VAR determined that many Dortmund players had entered the box illegally. Havertz then scored on the retake.
Chelsea held on to a crucial victory that advances them to the second straight round of Europe’s top club tournament as late replacement Christian Pulisic made his first Chelsea appearance since January 5.
Potter’s first big success since becoming the boss at Chelsea
Even though Chelsea defeated Leeds United last weekend by a lone, unanswered goal, Potter was still under a lot of pressure going into Tuesday’s matchup with Borussia Dortmund.
The ownership’s recent massive investment in the club, which totals over £600 million, calls for a better immediate return than the Blues have recently been able to deliver. An early Champions League departure would have boosted Potter’s detractors’ case that the 47-year-old may not be up to the task.
On the sidelines of this game, Potter was significantly more active, frequently attempting to stir the fans and responding to officiating decisions with more vigor than usual.
The moment when Havertz attempted to score his second-chance penalty in the 53rd minute may have been the most revealing one. Harry could only watch while seated. Even if it was occasionally difficult, this must be Potter’s greatest performance since taking over for Thomas Tuchel in September.
If the domestic stumbles continue, Potter will have a concrete accomplishment to point to in the possibility of a Champions League semifinal next month. Yet he will be hopeful that the first back-to-back victories since October would turn out to be the much-needed turning point.
Has Chelsea finally found their goalscorers?
Chelsea’s main issue under Potter has been scoring goals. They frequently produced and then missed opportunities, such as when Havertz struck the post or when had the ball in the net with a spectacular finish only to have the offside flag raised. It threatened to be another disappointing evening.
Chelsea, though, received recognition this time for their tenacity.
Raheem Sterling had a difficult first half, but he persisted and gave the home team the lead two minutes before halftime. Havertz needed two tries but converted his second spot kick after hitting the post with the first as many Dortmund players encroached in the penalty area.
Surprisingly, Chelsea has not scored more than once in a game since December 27. It was exactly what they needed to accomplish to advance, but positive performances from Joao Felix and Havertz in particular could aid Chelsea in overcoming what had undoubtedly, at least in part, developed into a psychological problem in front of the goal.
BVB still needs more from Bellingham
Dortmund’s preparations were further complicated by a late arrival to Stamford Bridge, which necessitated a 10-minute delay in the start of the game since it left them without their injured key offensive players Karim Adeyemi and Youssoufa Moukoko as well as goalkeeper Gregor Kobel.
To make matters worse, Julian Brandt was forced to leave the game with an injury after only five minutes, making it harder for them to maintain their first-leg lead.
For such moments, teams need their big players to stand up, and while Jude Bellingham is just 19 years old, he has led the side previously and is an important part of Dortmund’s assault. Regrettably, BVB had a less-than-stellar night.
He was not to fault for Dortmund’s elimination, but he was also unable to have the same impact on the game that has caused his suggested transfer price to soar in anticipation of a possible summer transfer to either the Premier League or La Liga.
Just before the hour, Sebastien Haller’s shot struck Ben Chilwell and dropped to him from 7 yards out, giving him a wonderful opportunity to draw Dortmund even on the scoreboard. Bellingham surprisingly sidefooted it wide.
Such a prodigiously talented player will undoubtedly have a great career, but this was a night to forget.