In the second leg of the round of 16 at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea defeated Dortmund 2-0 with an aggregate score of 2-1 to reach the Champions League quarterfinals.
Manager Graham Potter made a number of changes from the first leg, where they lost 0-1 at Signal Iduna Park, using a 3-4-3 formation with three center-backs Wesley Fofana, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Marc Cucurella. Upfront, the English manager pushed Hakim Ziyech and new signing Mykhailo Mudryk, who cost $119 million, to the bench, and deployed the trio of Raheem Sterling, Kai Havertz, and Joao Felix. Mudryk, in particular, did not play a single minute.
At 25 years and 255 days, Chelsea fielded their second-youngest starting lineup in a Champions League knockout match, after the second leg of the round of 16 against Bayern in the 2019-2020 season with 25 years and 236 days.
The match at Stamford Bridge kicked off over 10 minutes later than scheduled due to traffic congestion that delayed the Dortmund team bus by over 30 minutes. This set the tone for an unlucky day for the away team when Julian Brandt was injured and substituted for Giovanni Reyna in the 5th minute.
However, Dortmund started well and threatened Chelsea’s goal several times. In the 16th minute, from a free-kick 25 meters out, captain Marco Reus shot over the wall towards the top corner, but goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga made a reflex save. Just over ten minutes later, Reyna sent a cross into Chelsea’s penalty area, but no teammate finished it off.
The home side improved their performance in the second half of the first half, with the explosive duo of Havertz and Sterling. In the 28th minute, from a poorly cleared ball by a Dortmund player, Havertz one-touched a left-footed volley into the near corner of the net. Ten minutes later, the German star cut inside and curled a left-footed shot toward the far corner, but the goal was disallowed for Sterling’s offside position.
The difference was only made in the 43rd minute. From Ben Chilwell’s cross, Sterling’s left-footed shot missed the target but he still controlled the ball. The Englishman got past Reus and then fired a shot into the roof of the net.
Since making his Champions League debut in September 2014, Sterling has contributed to 44 goals, including 27 goals and 17 assists. This is the best record among English players in the tournament. Among them, only Wayne Rooney scored more goals than Sterling with 30.
“The Blues” completed the comeback early in the second half. In the 47th minute, after reviewing the video footage on the sideline, referee Danny Makkelie determined that Marius Wolf had used his hand to block Chilwell’s cross and awarded Chelsea a penalty.
On the penalty spot, Havertz shot towards the right corner, while Meyer went to the left, but the ball hit the post. VAR intervened and determined that the Dortmund player had encroached into the penalty area before Havertz took the shot, awarding Chelsea another penalty. On the second attempt, the German star shot low to the right, going against the Dortmund goalkeeper’s guess.
On the sidelines, Potter bowed his head and couldn’t bear to watch his player take the penalty. The English coach only knew that Havertz had scored when his assistants and the fans at Stamford Bridge erupted in excitement.
Afterward, Dortmund coach Edin Terzic reinforced his attack by bringing on strikers Donyell Malen and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, creating breathless pressure. However, their best chance was only a shot from Jude Bellingham from about 6 meters out that went wide of the post.
Even so, Chelsea scored a third goal when Sterling crossed the ball for Conor Gallagher to score into an empty net. However, the goal was disallowed due to a Sterling offside. Nevertheless, the 2-0 victory was enough for Chelsea to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. It was the fifth time that “The Blues” have progressed in the Champions League after losing the first leg – the best record in the tournament, alongside Barcelona, Juventus, and Real Madrid.
Potter also became the second manager to win five games in a single Champions League season, after Bobby Robson with Newcastle in 2002-2003. Prior to beating Dortmund in the second leg of the Round of 16, Chelsea had defeated Milan 3-0, RB Salzburg 2-1, Dinamo 2-1, and Milan 2-0 in the group stage.
Meanwhile, Dortmund suffered their first defeat of 2023 and ended their ten-match winning streak since the 2022 World Cup. In the last six years, the German team has only reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League once, in the 2020-2021 season.
In summary, after the Round of 16 matches on March 14th, this season’s Champions League has determined the eight teams to advance to the quarterfinals. These teams are Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Benfica, Inter, Man City, Milan, Napoli, and Real Madrid.
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