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Chelsea’s big-money trio come good as Blues reach Champions League quarters

Roman Abramovich is beginning to reap the rewards from last summer’s huge investment.

Chelsea spent £220m to overhaul the squad and put themselves in with a chance of the biggest prizes in football.

And fittingly, it was three of those big money signings who teamed up to send Chelsea into their first Champions League quarter final for seven years.

Hakim Ziyech, the £33m arrival from Ajax, scored the vital goal to effectively kill off Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge.

But it was created by £71m signing Kai Havertz and Timo Werner who provided the assist for a simple finish after a devastating counter attack.

Chelsea substitute Emerson sealed a hugely impressive win with another in the fourth minute of injury time as Atletico were comprehensively outplayed in both legs.

Thomas Tuchel has yet to suffer a defeat in 13 games since taking charge but this was his most important result to date.

Werner and Ziyech, along with Havertz, combined to score the opener in the first half

It was against top class European opposition, outwitting a top class coach in Diego Simeone and shows Chelsea are a force to be reckoned with again. Remarkably, they have now kept 11 clean sheets in 13 games and those sort of stats win trophies.

It is not just getting the best out of last summer’s signings but also making the team click and N’Golo Kante was key to the victory as he bossed midfield and ran the game.

Different managers have tried Kante in different positions which always seems baffling as the France international is arguably the best midfield anchorman in Europe so why play him anywhere else?

Another big summer signing, keeper Edouard Mendy, was rarely troubled because Chelsea’s defence was solid and all of the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place.

Kante was imperious in midfield in his natural holding position
Kante was imperious in midfield in his natural holding position

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Perhaps the only mystery is Ben Chilwell who cost £50 odd million excelled under Frank Lampard and yet seems very much second choice under his successor.

But this is not in any way a dig at Abramovich’s spending because money does not guarantee success and Tuchel is also proving his European pedigree, having led Paris Saint Germain to last season’s final.

Tuchel’s impact has been huge and Chelsea look a team on the up and were rarely troubled by Atletico with their biggest scare an early penalty appeal.

Cesar Azpilicueta dropped his back pass short and then grabbed Yannick Carrasco who felt theatrically to the floor but there was contact. Incredibly, the VAR did not even check the decision after Italian referee Daniele Orsato waved it away.

Azpilicueta was fortunate to avoid a VAR check for a potential foul on Carrasco
Azpilicueta was fortunate to avoid a VAR check for a potential foul on Carrasco

Can Chelsea go on to win the Champions League this season? Have your say in the comments.

Then came Chelsea’s breakthrough after 34 minutes. Havertz led the counter attack and linked up well with Werner who then put over a low cross and there was Ziyech charging in at the back post to slot home.

It was a huge moment for Chelsea as it also underlined their attacking potential. Havertz has shown glimpses with his silky smooth movement and turns while Ziyech has yet to recapture the form he showed for Ajax in the Champions League.

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But it is Werner whose stats are surprising when judged against the perception the £47m Germany forward has been something of a disappointment so far.

Werner has now provided seven assists and ten goals this season which means he has been directly involved in more goals in all competitions than any other Chelsea player this season.

From there, it was straightforward for Chelsea. Atletico lost their cool as Stefan Savic was sent off in the dying stages for an elbow on Antonio Rudiger and then Emerson scored with a second in the 94th minute firing home after another lightning counter attack.

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