Chelsea reached the Champions League semifinals for the first time since 2014 despite a 1-0 defeat against Porto in Tuesday’s quarterfinal second leg in Seville.
Thomas Tuchel’s side will play Real Madrid or Liverpool for a place in the final after producing a masterclass in game management to win 2-1 on aggregate.
Real travel to Anfield on Wednesday looking to protect a 3-1 lead from the first leg.
They could do worse than copy Tuchel’s tactics as Chelsea smothered Porto with an intelligent defensive approach until Mehdi Taremi’s stunning bicycle kick in the last minute of stoppage-time.
That sublime strike was out of character with the rest of Porto’s display as they laboured to overturn the 2-0 first-leg deficit.
Chelsea have lost only once in 18 matches since Tuchel replaced the sacked Frank Lampard in January and this was another feather in the German’s cap.
Tuchel had admitted this week was a make or break period for Chelsea.
They passed the first test with ease and can now focus on Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal against Premier League leaders Manchester City at Wembley.
The Blues are fifth in the Premier League as they chase a top-four finish, meaning they might need to win the Champions League for the first time since 2012 if they are to qualify for next season’s competition.
Led by the astute Tuchel, who took Paris Saint-Germain to the Champions League final last season, that lofty ambition can’t be ruled out.
Tuchel this week said he wouldn’t want to fight Antonio Rudiger or Cesar Azpilicueta, such is the ferocious will to win coursing through Chelsea’s most vocal players.
Both defenders lived up to Tuchel’s billing as they fought tooth and nail to keep Porto at bay in a niggly clash.
Taremi’s eye-catching strike with seconds left came far too late for a dramatic finale, with tempers flaring in a heated exchange involving Rudiger and several Porto players after the final whistle. (AFP)