Tuchel spot on with big calls as Chelsea produce perfect away display


ormal service resumed for Chelsea. Consider West Brom and the battle of Cobham well and truly behind them.

A 2-0 win against Porto has put Thomas Tuchel on the verge of the Champions League semi-finals – perhaps his second successive final after taking Paris Saint-Germain to the brink of European glory last season.

This felt like a personal triumph for Tuchel, who has handled his first setback in the job to perfection.

That 5-2 defeat had the potential to undo all the good work of his first couple of months at Stamford Bridge.

The training ground clash between Antonio Rudiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga in the wake of it was perhaps even more damaging.

But on this evidence, he called it just right.

No panicking after the defensive aberrations that allowed relegation-threatened West Brom to make mugs of the meanest of rearguards assembled by Tuchel.

And no iron-fist reaction to tempers flaring in the aftermath. Both decisions ensured dressing room unity remained intact ahead of a game of such importance.

It is the collective resolve of Porto that makes them such a daunting challenge. If Chelsea were anything other than totally unified in the neutral venue of Seville, the risk was they would go the same way as Juventus in the last round.

Instead this was a band of brothers-type display. In many ways a perfect European away performance.

There was pain to be had. Porto had their chances. Cesar Azpilicueta threw himself in front of everything in an ultimate captain’s display.

Edouard Mendy avoided the humiliation of being beaten directly from an Otavio corner by recovering sharply and in the second half he saved Rudiger’s blushes by repelling Moussa Marega with his legs.

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