Graham Potter enjoyed his finest night as Chelsea manager as they overcame a first-leg deficit against Borussia Dortmund to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
Potter was under huge pressure after a dismal run of results following Chelsea’s huge outlay in the transfer market, but he will hope the manner of this performance and the advance into the latter stages of Europe’s elite competition will deliver a measure of calm and stability to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea fully deserved their win, although they squandered several big opportunities before Raheem Sterling made the breakthrough after 43 minutes, firing past Dortmund keeper Alexander Meyer after initially fluffing his shot.
The goal which settled the tie and overturned Dortmund’s 1-0 advantage from the first leg came in contentious fashion from the penalty spot eight minutes after the break.
Dortmund were furious when a VAR review penalised Marius Wolf for handball from Ben Chilwell’s cross and their sense of injustice heightened after Kai Havertz struck the post with his spot-kick only for a re-take to be ordered.
This time Havertz made no mistake and Chelsea were on their way into the last eight.
Is this lift-off for Potter?
Potter was been waiting for a show of strength such as this from the moment he left Brighton to take over at Chelsea, succeeding Champions League winner Thomas Tuchel.
Potter has struggled to convince Chelsea’s fans he has the personality required to take on this occasionally dysfunctional football beast and his cause has not been helped by poor Premier League form and a battle to establish any sort of shape and stability from the influx of players assembled at vast expense by new owner Todd Boehly.
The pressure was released somewhat with Saturday’s narrow win over Leeds United at Stamford Bridge but a big Champions League win against opponents of such European pedigree as Borussia Dortmund will go some way to convincing the doubters that Potter is cut out for the task.
There is still much work to do as Chelsea lie in a wholly unacceptable 10th place in the Premier League and two victories will not change the landscape instantly but there is no doubt Stamford Bridge felt like a much happier place when Dutch referee Danny Makkelie sounded his final whistle.
Potter will have been satisfied to see big performances from fit-again Reece James with Ben Chilwell also outstanding. And his former Brighton player Marc Cucurella also looked much more at home than he has before.
The scenes at the final whistle were a sharp contrast to many witnessed at Stamford Bridge this season with Potter punching the air in front of joyous Chelsea supporters as their Champions League journey continues.
Subdued Bellingham still shows class
All eyes were England teenager Jude Bellingham from the moment he arrived at Stamford Bridge, with waiting Chelsea fans making an instant sales pitch for the young star, who is expected to be pursued by every big club in Europe this summer.
This was not Bellingham’s best night as Dortmund’s Champions League campaign came to an end with the added disappointment of squandering a first-leg lead, but the 19-year-old still showed why he will be in such demand.
Bellingham’s night had low points, such as when he poked a great chance wide from eight yards in the second half and a very poor challenge in the closing seconds that left Reece James prostrate and brought a yellow card.
He did, however, show class and arrogance on the ball, vision, and a marauding style as Dortmund chased an equaliser in vain after Chelsea grabbed control.
Bellingham trooped off at the final whistle and is likely to be playing his Champions League football elsewhere next season, but in little flashes he still showed what all the fuss is about.
Player of the match
Squad number24Player nameJames
Squad number29Player nameHavertz
Squad number21Player nameChilwell
Squad number1Player nameArrizabalaga
Squad number8Player nameKovacic
Squad number26Player nameKoulibaly
Squad number32Player nameCucurella
Squad number17Player nameSterling
Squad number33Player nameFofana
Squad number11Player nameJoão Félix
Squad number5Player nameFernández
Squad number23Player nameGallagher
Squad number12Player nameLoftus-Cheek
Squad number20Player nameZakaria
Squad number10Player namePulisic
Squad number22Player nameBellingham
Squad number33Player nameMeyer
Squad number25Player nameSüle
Squad number23Player nameCan
Squad number7Player nameReyna
Squad number11Player nameReus
Squad number13Player nameRaphaël Guerreiro
Squad number17Player nameWolf
Squad number4Player nameSchlotterbeck
Squad number9Player nameHaller
Squad number21Player nameMalen
Squad number6Player nameÖzcan
Squad number43Player nameBynoe-Gittens
Squad number19Player nameBrandt
- 1ArrizabalagaBooked at 65mins
- 32CucurellaBooked at 90mins
- 5FernándezBooked at 77minsSubstituted forZakariaat 87′minutes
- 8KovacicSubstituted forPulisicat 83′minutes
- 21ChilwellBooked at 90mins
- 17SterlingSubstituted forLoftus-Cheekat 83′minutes
- 11João FélixSubstituted forGallagherat 67′minutes
- 17WolfBooked at 90mins
- 25SüleBooked at 41mins
- 19BrandtSubstituted forReynaat 5′minutes
- 22BellinghamBooked at 90mins
- 6ÖzcanSubstituted forBynoe-Gittensat 64′minutes
- 9HallerSubstituted forMalenat 77′minutes
- Danny Makkelie
Match ends, Chelsea 2, Borussia Dortmund 0.
Second Half ends, Chelsea 2, Borussia Dortmund 0.
Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Christian Pulisic (Chelsea).
Marc Cucurella (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Marius Wolf (Borussia Dortmund).
Ben Chilwell (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt saved. Marius Wolf (Borussia Dortmund) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Donyell Malen.
Attempt missed. Marius Wolf (Borussia Dortmund) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Giovanni Reyna with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Borussia Dortmund. Conceded by Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Attempt blocked. Raphaël Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt missed. Nico Schlotterbeck (Borussia Dortmund) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Giovanni Reyna.
Marius Wolf (Borussia Dortmund) is shown the yellow card.
Ben Chilwell (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card.
Marius Wolf (Borussia Dortmund) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ben Chilwell (Chelsea).
Offside, Chelsea. Kalidou Koulibaly tries a through ball, but Christian Pulisic is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Marius Wolf with a cross.
Substitution, Chelsea. Denis Zakaria replaces Enzo Fernández.