Thomas Tuchel has revealed that Chelsea’s immediate reaction to the loss to West Brom leaves him in no doubt that they will respond against Porto in the Champions League.
Chelsea traveled to Sevilla for the Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday, following Saturday’s heavy 5-2 loss to the Baggies, which abruptly ended Tuchel’s unbeaten start to life in 14 games at Stamford Bridge.
But Chelsea produced an emphatic response when Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell scored their first Champions League goals to secure a 2-0 victory over the champions Portugal, leaving Tuchel’s side on the brink of a first appearance. in the semifinals in seven years.
For Tuchel, the result and the manner of the performance were on the cards when his players had the chance to reflect on their shock loss to the Baggies threatened with relegation.
“I was pretty sure [there would a response to West Brom]Tuchel said after the victory at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan stadium in Seville, the alternate venue for both stages of the quarter-final due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
“I saw the answer immediately after the game in the locker room and the next day it wasn’t a big deal.
“We had a big loss; it was our responsibility and we accepted it – me included. We were ready to respond, that’s what we said, and that’s it. There will always be setbacks in the sport and the biggest challenge now was to bounce back.
“We had a lot of wins together, a lot of great results. We had a loss and now we have a reaction after a loss together, and that brings us closer and increases confidence. It was important to have a clean sheet. and a victory just after that loss. “
Chelsea sometimes had to try their luck against a confident Porto side after knocking out Serie A champions Juventus in the previous round, with goalkeeper Edouard Mendy making a series of great saves to thwart Pepe and Moussa Marega.
But Mount’s masterful strike in the first half – his first in European elite club competition in the 15th attempt – and industrious Chilwell late in the second period, saw the Blues get a two-goal advantage in the first leg. fully deserved.
“The result is excellent,” Tuchel added. “It was a tough game against a strong Porto side who are very difficult to play and who have good individual skills.
“It’s a proud club, a proud team, an emotional team, and there were many times we suffered. We accepted it, the circumstances are different in the quarterfinals.
“Some times were good, some times we suffered, but the spirit was good and the result was excellent. I am very happy to come away with this result, it is fantastic but it is only in the middle. time. [in the tie] and we must continue. “
On Mount and Chilwell’s first Champions League strikes, the Chelsea boss added: “I am very happy that he [Mason] scored, it was a very important goal, an away goal that opened the game and got everyone on their nerves. It was not an easy shot, but very precise.
“Chilwell’s goal was great, he’s not a regular goalscorer but he kept his cool, got around the goalie and it was super important to get the second away goal.
“We lacked a bit of rhythm and precision on the attack, but there was always a chance to get a goal from an opponent’s error, and Chilwell forced one and kept his cool in the surface. “
Analysis: Increasingly important mountain
Nick Wright from Sky Sports:
Tuchel offered Mount more praise after the game, praising his attitude and mentality after the 22-year-old’s superb opener sent Chelsea on the way to victory.
Mount’s goal made him Chelsea’s youngest scorer in the Champions League round of 16, but age is no obstacle. Since being squeezed out of Tuchel’s first roster as Chelsea head coach, he has become just as important as he was to his predecessor Frank Lampard.
In fact, he is growing in stature. His goal at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan was his eighth of the campaign, meaning he has already equaled his total for all of last season, and that wasn’t all he was offering.
Mount was generally industrious against Porto, taking his usual industry off the ball, and his goal showed all the qualities it brings to them in an offensive sense. First there was the smart move to position himself between two Porto defenders, then the skillful turn and clinical finish.
He only turned 22 in January, but Mount is shaping up to be the full package and Tuchel knows it.