Chelsea defeated Borussia Dortmund 2-0 (2-1 on aggregate) at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals in a huge victory for the English side.. The Blues gave a strong performance in front of the home crowd and it feels like it could be a turning point for manager Graham Potter.
The Chelsea players came out of the traps sharply to show that they were up for the fight, showing that they were battling for their manager just as much as for a place in the Champions League quarter-finals. They had several opportunities in the first half which brought them close to an opener but you felt that luck was not on their side as Kai Havertz hit the post before having a goal disallowed for offside, and Kalidou Koulibaly having a couple opportunities of his own.
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After being let down by a couple of offsides in the opening 45, Raheem Sterling was the player to get Stamford Bridge to erupt after he smashed the ball into the roof of the net after getting some fortune inside the Dortmund area to give the Blues the lead minutes before the break to level the tie.
Chelsea and Potter’s luck had started to turn and they got some more good fortune minutes after the restart after they were awarded a penalty for a handball by Marius Wolf. That fortune did seem short-lived, however, when Havertz’s spot-kick cannoned back off the post, only for the referee pointing to the spot again after encroachment in the area.
The German attacker then held his nerve to convert with his second attempt, opting for the exact same corner again. The atmosphere was electric in west London as Chelsea were in control of the tie. The Blues did have to endure some pressure from the Black and Yellows who were desperate to claw their way back into the match, but they showed their togetherness and resilience to shut the visitors out.
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This match feels like it could be a turning point for Potter in SW6. His side have now recorded two consecutive victories, firstly against Leeds United in the Premier League and now against Dortmund in the Champions League to send them through to the last eight. And while they scraped by against Leeds in need of a win, they turned in a spirited performance against Dortmund, who of course had won every single game they had played since the World Cup restart in January. Edin Terzic's men headed to Chelsea as one of the most in-form teams in Europe.
Havertz, Sterling and Joao Felix were linking up really well to create a host of chances for the hosts and it looks as though the attackers are on the same page as one another - which will be a huge boost for the team moving forward.
It hasn’t been easy for Potter since moving from Brighton & Hove Albion to the London giants. While he has tried to implement his own philosophy on a squad that has seen 16 new faces arrive in the past two transfer windows. Of course there is the argument that he has had some very talented players at his disposal and perhaps he should’ve done a bit better in his first few months. But he has shown his integrity to stick to his own style that he is implementing on the squad and while it may take some time for it to be perfected, the supporters will likely see positive results in the long-term, something which Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly is on board with.
Despite having the faith of the board, the speculation over the past few months won’t have been easy on Potter, he’s never experienced anything like it in his coaching career, So this huge victory over Dortmund will mean everything to him, not just because he has eased the pressure on his shoulders, but by the performance his players delivered when he and the club needed it most.
This triumph will have a massive boost on the Chelsea dressing room given that they turned the tie around and also ended Dortmund’s impressive 10-game winning run. They will feel that they can build on this not just in Europe but in the Premier League as well. They have 13 matches left in the league and while their 11-point deficit off the top four seems a stretch too far, a strong finish to the campaign will set them up for a much better start in 2023-24.