Chelsea’s luck under new manager Graham Potter and new owner Todd Boehly had not been as promising as they thought this season; The team won only nine out of 25 matches in the Premier League, and is currently sitting at tenth in the table. Nonetheless, Chelsea’s misfortune seemed to have finally taken a better turn, after the team beat Leeds United last time around at home. The side carried the winning momentum to the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, with hopes of overturning the tie to its favour at Stamford Bridge and progressing into the quarterfinal.
Sterling Drew First Blood
Graham Potter made only two changes to his Chelsea side that surpassed the Peacocks, with the return of England international Reece James as well as Spaniard Marc Cucurella, whereas Julian Ryerson was replaced with Raphaël Guerreiro in the Borussia Dortmund starting line-up by Edin Terzić.
Boosted with the weekend win, Chelsea started the first 45 minutes in outstanding form, constantly knocking the door for the first goal of the evening as well as the equaliser in the overall tie. The Blues almost broke the deadlock, if João Félix’s 6-minute near post strike was not saved and Kai Havertz’s effort was able to hit the target. The latter also had another chance on goal in the 28th minute, but his shot inside the penalty box did not bounce into the back of the net despite hitting the right post.
Dortmund’s defence finally succumbed to Chelsea’s pressure two minutes before the first added time, after Ben Chilwell’s cross found Sterling around the penalty box and the England forward miscued his first-time effort. The 28-year-old then controlled the ball and edge past Marco Reus, before smashing in his seventh goal in 27 appearances in all competitions for the team in blue.
Raheem Sterling and Chelsea 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 get their breakthrough 🥳 pic.twitter.com/xJxA6FdrYI
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 7, 2023
Havertz’s Dramatic Penalty Sealed the All-Important Victory
Controversies happened right after the restart, when Chilwell’s delivery met the hand of Dortmund’s 27-year-old right-back Marius Wolf. Referee Danny Makkelie did not entertain Chelsea’s claim initially, but finally awarded the Blues a spot kick upon video assistant referee (VAR) check. With the team’s primary penalty taker Jorginho now gone to Arsenal, Havertz stepped up to perform the penalty duty but missed his shot, after his strike found the right post once again.
The chaotic moment of the match did not end there as the Dutch referee claimed that Dortmund players were intruding the penalty box during Havertz’s penalty, thus he awarded the German international to retake his spot kick, in which he chose the same spot and finally scored. The goal was Havertz’s 30th in a Chelsea jersey, since joining the club back in 2020.
The 2-0 margin at the end of this second leg was enough for Graham Potter’s men to beat Edin Terzić’s side with a 2-1 aggregate score line, making the Blues among the first two teams to progress into the next knockout round of the UEFA Champions League, with the other being Primeira Liga’s S. L. Benfica, which demolished Belgium’s Club Brugge 7-1 over two legs of matches.
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Potter: “It Was a Special Night.”
Unlike many other post-match conferences for Graham Potter this season, the 47-year-old had smiles on his face after the victory against the German outfit. He stated: “Really pleased. Fantastic atmosphere, fantastic evening. The players and supporters were tremendous. We had to be against a team that have 10 wins on the bounce. It was a special night.” The Chelsea manager also applauded Havertz’s performance last evening, claiming that he was in “Awe” for any player who decides to assume the penalty responsibilities and handles them well.
Jude Bellingham from the losing Borussia Dortmund called the refereeing performance a “Joke” in last night’s game, but the England international was careful with his words to avoid another fine in similar fashion. The teenage midfield sensation followed by making a statement regarding the spot kick that went “From where I was it looked like he was pretty close and I’m not sure what more he can do with his hands”.
Tonight’s heavyweight clash in the UEFA Champions League will see Bayern Munich play Neymar-less Paris Saint-Germain at home in the Allianz Arena.