Chelsea set up all-English CL final

LONDON, May 6: Chelsea’s decision to fire a club legend suddenly doesn’t seem so callous after all.
While Frank Lampard’s name has hardly been forgotten by the Chelsea fans — there were chants outside Stamford Bridge before kickoff on Wednesday — new manager Thomas Tuchel is quickly creating his own legacy after leading the London club into the Champions League final against Manchester City.
Chelsea even made record 13-time European Cup champion Real Madrid look ordinary as goals from Timo Werner and Mason Mount sealed a 2-0 victory that ousted Madrid 3-1 on aggregate.
Perhaps the stragglers leaving the bars near Stamford Bridge could hear the roar Tuchel let out on the field inside the empty stadium long after his players had departed the field. It will certainly have been heard in the Chelsea boardroom by the directors whose decision to dismiss Lampard in January and hire Tuchel now seems vindicated.
“I am very grateful and thankful to have this opportunity,” said Tuchel, who’d been dismissed by Paris Saint-Germain in December despite leading the French club to last year’s Champions League final.
Just like when owner Roman Abramovich made mid-season managerial changes in the 2007-08 and 2011-12 seasons, Chelsea will end the campaign by contesting the biggest game in European football. And by the end of the month, two Champions League trophies could be at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea the first club to reach the men’s and women’s finals in the same season.
While City has never lifted the European Cup, Chelsea’s only triumph came in 2012 when the 22-year-old Mount was in the youth system.
Unlike last season’s final — when Tuchel’s PSG lost to Bayern Munich — fans are set to be allowed in. Chelsea supporters have yet to see Tuchel managing their team in the flesh due to England’s ongoing coronavirus restrictions. But they can’t deny the impact he has made.
Chelsea was five points outside the four Champions League qualification places when he was hired, but heads into the final four games of the Premier League season in fourth place with a three-point cushion.
“I think we tried, but the truth is today Chelsea were superior and we have to congratulate them,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said.
After conceding a costly away goal last week, Madrid lacked the attacking nous or threat to turn this semifinal around as Chelsea kept an 18th clean sheet in 24 games under Tuchel.
Karim Benzema was denied by the first in a series of fine saves by Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy before Werner’s opener but the visitors were sluggish.
Even in a debut season of misfortune, not even Werner could miss in the 28th minute when presented with an unguarded net to head into from close range after Kai Havertz had lobbed former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and hit the crossbar.
Werner had scored only his fourth goal in 35 games for Chelsea. For all the scrutiny faced, though, Werner has still managed 12 goals and 10 assists since last year costing Chelsea up to $68 million.
For all Chelsea’s threat, Madrid only needed to score once to force the second leg into extra time.
Chelsea pushed hard and were helped by the arrival of Christian Pulisic from the bench as Werner’s replacement to spark the second goal. The American headed to N’Golo Kante and received the ball back to feed Mount, who lifted a shot over Courtois in the 85th. (AP)

Get real time updates directly on your device, subscribe now.

Comments are closed.