SEVILLE, Spain – Chelsea has one foot in the Champions League final four after a 2-0 victory on Wednesday night over Porto, getting goals from Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell in the first-leg quarterfinal contest.
The London club was coolly efficient inside an empty Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in this southern Spanish city, taking the lead in the 32nd minute on their only clear first-half scoring opportunity and then finding the net again in the 85th minute after a blunder by Porto midfielder Jesus Corona.
Neither side posed a serious threat in the final third over the first half hour of the contest, which was played at a neutral site due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
But Mount gave Chelsea a key “away” goal in the 32nd minute when he received a pass from Italy international Jorginho in the area, maneuvered around one defender and fired a curving right-footed shot past the outstretched leg of Porto net minder Agustin Marchesin and just inside the far post.
The 22-year-old Englishman’s first Champions goal forced a response from the Portuguese club, who nearly equalized late in the half on a Pepe on-target header off a corner kick that Senegalese goalie Edouard Mendy did well to save.
Three more chances set up by Brazilian midfielder Otavio also came and went before the intermission: a Pepe header that Mendy corralled, a wayward attempt by Colombian midfielder Mateus Uribe and a squandered header by Serbian midfielder Marko Grujic.
Chelsea had an opportunity after the break to increase their lead, but Timo Werner misfired with a close-range header off a pass from Mount.
That was followed by a strong 10-minute stretch by Porto in which Malian forward Moussa Marega squandered a one-on-one chance against Mendy and Colombian winger Luis Diaz tried his luck with two shots from outside the area.
A series of substitutions ensued, with two of Chelsea’s replacements – Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud – becoming involved in a play in the 84th minute that ended with the American attacking midfielder clanking a shot off the bar.
But the Blues wouldn’t be denied a second goal, which came when Chilwell gathered a ball in space after Corona botched his attempt to control a pass from Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic.
The English left back darted into the box, dribbled around Marchesin and then tapped into an empty net in the 86th minute.
Porto had one final chance to get on the scoreboard in second-half stoppage time, but a free kick came to naught.
“The result is excellent for us. It was a tough match against a very strong Porto side. They are hard to play against, they are a proud club and an emotional team that fight hard,” Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel was quoted as saying afterward on the team’s website.
Chelsea bounced back after a stunning 5-2 loss to West Bromwich Albion in Premier League action at Stamford Bridge last Saturday, the German manager’s first loss since taking over the London squad in late January.
Porto, for their part, will rue a number of missed chances and now have the difficult challenge of returning to Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan next Tuesday as the visitors and trying to pull off an improbable comeback.