Chelsea vs. Porto score: Blues ease to Champions League semis despite stunning late Mehdi Taremi Porto goal
Chelsea are looking to preserve their two-goal lead heading into the second leg in Seville
Mehdi Taremi's stunning late volley was enough to earn Porto a 1-0 victory over Chelsea but not enough to deny the London club a berth in the Champions League semi-finals.
Last week's 2-0 win in the 'away' leg of this tie proved to be enough for Thomas Tuchel's side, who were solidity personified in defense until a remarkable overhead kick from substitute Taremi earned Porto victory on the night though coming in the 93rd minute it never seemed like it would be enough to help send the tie to extra time.
Instead it served as a reminder of the remarkable quality that it will take to score against this Chelsea side, who are starting to look like a defensive force in this competition. With Taremi's goal the first the Blues have conceded in the knockout stages, it seems they will prove to be a tough out for whichever of Real Madrid and Liverpool draw them in the semi-finals.
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Porto's chance slips away
Porto's task was inevitably going to be a challenging one. Much of their success in the Champions League this season has been based on an excellent last line that could and would throw itself in the way of any shot that came its way. Against the toughest opponents they had been passive and looked to punish mistakes but they returned to Seville knowing that would not do as they looked to overturn a two goal deficit from the first leg.
To their credit they approached their task with aggression and for a time early in the game they looked to have Chelsea rocking. The tandem of Otavio and Jesus Corona led the press from the right wing and the 'home' team's commitment to playing out from the back looked to be backfiring when Edouard Mendy sent a pass straight to Corona. Had Jorginho not put just enough pressure on the Mexican Porto may have been halved their deficit with 79 minutes to go in the tie.
Aside from that early chance and a smart run into the space behind Ben Chilwell later in the first half the Portuguese side rather struggled to get sufficient men into dangerous areas. Taremi's late volley came like a bolt from the blue with Porto wheezing across the park, struggling to find spaces around what was effectively a back five out of possession being shielded by Jorginho and the customarily excellent N'Golo Kante. It should be an effective system for holding firm in Europe.
Chelsea enjoy the silence
Whilst Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich served up fireworks on the other channel this was an altogether more stultifying affair, something which ought to be good news for Thomas Tuchel's side. It is hardly a skill to delight neutrals but being able to take the air out of contests as Chelsea have done on their path to the semi-finals is a skill nonetheless.
In a way it did not really count for much that Chelsea were neutered as an attacking force until just before the hour mark, when Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount went close with a flurry of early chances. It felt like an act of gloating from the English side, telling their opponents that should they so wish they could rip through them at will.
The same was not true of the team who actually needed to score goals.
Not until the 65th minute did Porto even register a shot on target, a tame header from the penalty spot by Taremi that would not test any professional goalkeeper, let alone Mendy. That chance was a rarity in that it was a header won by the Portuguese side in the Chelsea penalty area, where Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger and in particular Reece James were exceptional.
Add the Atletico Madrid game to the mix and a pattern is starting to emerge with Chelsea, a team who will offer nothing and take everything that comes their way. They are hard to play against, do not make silly errors and have such variety of attacking options that even if things do not click from the off Tuchel can tinker with off the bench. Real Madrid and Liverpool have players who can create moments of magic more frequently than Taremi and Porto did but that might be what it takes to score against them.
Chelsea 0, Porto 1
⚽ Taremi (Porto, 93')
A stoppage time goal from Porto! Too little too late?