All's well that ends well for Chilwell as debut Chelsea season finishes in glory

By Sports Desk May 29, 2021

Ben Chilwell said winning the Champions League was "what I came to Chelsea for" after Thomas Tuchel's side stunned Manchester City in Porto.

The England left-back moved to Stamford Bridge from Leicester City last August and finished his first season as a European club champion.

He helped keep the likes of Riyad Mahrez quiet as Chelsea landed a 1-0 victory over pre-match favourites City on Saturday.

"We fought so hard," said Chilwell. "We knew that it was going to be a tough game and in the second half we fought for our lives.

"We just pictured this moment and this feeling and it's amazing. It's what I came to Chelsea for. It's a dream come true."

Speaking to BT Sport, Chilwell said Chelsea had done their homework on the likes of Mahrez and Raheem Sterling.

"We knew their strengths and knew Riyad and Raheem on the wings were potentially going to cause us problems," Chilwell said.

"So me and Reece [James, the right-back] had to be on our game and I think the key was to be tight and try to be aggressive with them.

"I was getting very tired as the game went on but when the Champions League was up for grabs it doesn't really matter."

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    Karim Benzema bailed out Real Madrid once again, but the French striker insisted the 2-1 win at Valencia was richly deserved, as their unbeaten LaLiga run stretched to 23 games. 

    The capital giants had trailed to a fine 66th-minute strike from Hugo Duro that looked set to take Valencia to the top of the table, but instead it is Madrid who sit on that perch with 13 points from five games. 

    Captain Benzema teed up Vinicius Junior to slot in an 86th-minute leveller, with the help of a deflection, before roles were reversed for the winner two minutes later. 

    A teasing cross from Vinicius was perfect for Benzema to attack, and although the ball went in off his shoulder rather than his forehead, as was the intention, they all count. 

    Benzema has now scored in his last six games against Valencia, and Sunday's late show was sweet revenge for the 4-1 thumping that Madrid took at Mestalla last November. 

    Coach Carlo Ancelotti described his team's spirit as "indomitable" and Benzema saw it similarly. 

    The 33-year-old said: "I think it was a difficult game for us against a great team who are always difficult to beat here. 

    "I think we deserved the three points that are important to us. Each game is a final, today was another final and we won. 

    "All the players on the pitch and the people who came on at the end of the game to help us, it is a victory for the squad. If I can continue like this, scoring, the most important thing is that they are important for the club." 

    Madrid are unbeaten in their last 18 away trips (W12 D6) in LaLiga, which equals their best such run in the competition's history, having previously reached 18 games unbeaten in 1997 (W11 D7) and 2016 (W13 D5). 

    Benzema has six goals already this season in LaLiga from an expected goals (xG) total of 2.61, indicating he is having an outstanding run in front of goal. 

    He has become the first player since Lionel Messi in 2011-12 to be directly involved in 11 or more goals in the first five games of a LaLiga campaign (six goals, five assists). 

    This season has seen Vinicius very much come to the party too, bagging five goals from an xG of 2.3, also outperforming expectations substantially, and now adding a first assist. 

    Quoted by AS, Vinicius said the win at Valencia was credit to Madrid's refusal to accept they are ever beaten.

    "It is always difficult to play here, but we continue to believe and Madrid never give up," said the 21-year-old Brazilian.

    "The main virtue is patience. It was the job of the coach and the whole team. We are doing things like never before. We played well, but things didn't work out and in the end we got the comeback. I am happy with the victory "

    It was a victory that delighted Ancelotti, who has yet to lose a competitive game since returning to the club in the close season.

    "We have not won because of quality, but because of the indomitable spirit of the team," said Ancelotti. "We continued to the end."

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    Nuno Espirito Santo was keen to focus on a positive first half against Chelsea after Tottenham collapsed following the interval, when "there were a lot of things that went wrong".

    For the second week in a row, Spurs lost 3-0 to London rivals in the Premier League, although they were initially more impressive against Chelsea than they had been at Crystal Palace.

    The out-of-sorts European champions reached the interval with the game still goalless, however, and the introduction of N'Golo Kante then changed the game.

    He scored Chelsea's second goal via a huge deflection after Thiago Silva had become the club's second-oldest goalscorer in the competition. The 36-year-old trails only Didier Drogba (37 in 2015) in that regard.

    Antonio Rudiger blasted in a late third, as Chelsea had 14 second-half shots, including 10 on target. Tottenham mustered just two and one respectively.

    "There were a lot of things that went wrong," Spurs coach Nuno told BBC Sport.

    "Let's start with the first half – I think it was a good game, competitive. We were on the the front foot, started pressing high, creating problems and had chances.

    "In the second half, the set-piece and goal changes the game. Then it becomes much harder, the game totally changed and Chelsea took control and were the better team in the second half.

    "It's difficult, but I'm proud of the first half and of all the game because we had troubles in the team and the players went to their limits."

    Spurs had 14 pressed sequences on Sunday, having averaged 10.3 per game so far this season, as they adopted a far more aggressive approach before half-time.

    That subsided in the second period, in which Chelsea dominated 57.7 per cent of the possession, but Nuno repeatedly preferred to highlight his side's early work across his media duties.

    The former Wolves boss described Tottenham as "fantastic" in that spell to Sky Sports, adding: "The first 45 minutes was huge for us. Now we have to sustain this level over the whole game."

    Nuno then told a news conference: "[It was a] very good first half, very good. We competed really well, we played good football, we pressed high.

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    He added: "If there's only one positive today, that was the first half."

  • Tuchel impressed with ruthless Blues' response after delivering home truths at Spurs Tuchel impressed with ruthless Blues' response after delivering home truths at Spurs

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    The Blues were second best in the first half at Tottenham Stadium after emotional pre-match tributes to Spurs, Chelsea and England legend Jimmy Greaves, who died at the age of 81 on Sunday.

    Chelsea only registered one shot on target in the opening 45 minutes and Tottenham showed more intensity before Tuchel made his side well aware they must raise their game at the break.

    The outstanding Thiago Silva headed the European champions in front four minutes into the second half and a deflected strike from the fit-again N'Golo Kante, who replaced Mason Mount at half-time, doubled their lead.

    Spurs had no answer to the Blues and Antonio Rudiger compounded their misery by drilling home in stoppage time as Tuchel's men went top of the Premier League on goal difference.

    Tuchel says Chelsea's first-half display was unacceptable but he was pleased with the manner in which they took control following the interval.

    Asked if it was a game of two halves, he told Sky Sports: "Yes it was, you're absolutely right. I was absolutely not happy with the first 45 minutes.

    "There were individual performances which were great in the first half from Kepa [Arrizabalaga] and Thiago Silva. Even more players were good but in general we lacked intent and energy in duels and 50-50 balls.

    "I had the feeling we wanted to impress by pure skills but in derbies like this it is not always about just skills. It is about aggression, winning duels and performing better as a team.

    "We spoke clearly about it at half-time. In the second half it was a very good performance and a deserved win in the second half. It was a very good reaction so I am happy with the performance in the second half."

    Rudiger was late getting into the stadium after experiencing some technical difficulties with the coronavirus pass on his phone, and Tuchel felt that summed up Chelsea's first-half performance.

    He said: "I was not concerned but it is strange when your player arrives late. He had some [coronavirus] passport issues. It was like this in the first half. We were there but not fully there. I was glad we were able to overcome these situations.

    "We are competitive and we want to be competitive. It is no excuse to say we are not ready. We want to produce results and we can. It's what we want at the club.

    "We want to win. We are competitive in this level to win already but we still have things to improve. The first half was proof of that.

    "It's good to have these hard situations now and to overcome them. We are able to produce deserved wins so it's a good basis to keep on going."

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