Porto vs Chelsea: Five things we learned as Blues bounce back with first-leg victory in Champions League

Karl Matchett
·4 min read

Chelsea secured a 2-0 win over FC Porto in the Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday night.

The designated home side - in the neutral surrounds of Andalucia - made by far the better start and Mateus Uribe had the first notable effort of the match, smashing an effort from range just off-target. Edouard Mendy then had to palm away a corner which was heading straight into his net as a succession of set-pieces troubled the Blues.

A lack of clinical edge from the Portuguese was to prove costly, though, as Mason Mount’s brilliant turn and finish but Chelsea ahead with their first shot of the game just past the half-hour mark. Pepe and Marko Grujic headed efforts at goal before the break, while Timo Werner sent one of his own over the bar immediately after half-time.

Luis Diaz was next to go close, curling just wide from range as Porto maintained pressure, but the Blues managed to withstand the hosts’ attempts and gradually found more control of the game. A one-goal win would have been a professionally done job, but Ben Chilwell made it a near-perfect night with a fantastic solo goal late on, taking on two and rounding the ‘keeper before rolling home.

Here are five things we learned from the first leg in Sevilla.

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Main man Mount

Work rate, intelligent movement, tactical versatility, great technique.

And now, a Champions League goal.

That particular footnote was still missing from Mount’s collection of personal moments and highlights before his first-half strike, but it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that he found the way through for the Blues.

He continues to prove himself not just an indispensable starter, but also, increasingly, a match-winner. He’s not just a good foil for the other attackers around him, but the Chelsea regular who they look to in a moment of need.

Positive response

Thomas Tuchel might feel there’s plenty to improve on the overall performance from the night, but so too might he suggest this was an adequate response of sorts to the weekend drubbing by West Brom.

That goes for individuals as well as the team display, perhaps.

Jorginho was one of those who came in for most criticism last time out, so his perfect pass to set up Mount’s goal was a good personal moment.

And despite not keeping Porto out in terms of a fairly regular string of chances, there was certainly more bite and togetherness about the defensive unit compared to the shapeless dross which shipped five to the Baggies.

More threat to come

Porto certainly did have their chances, enough for them to feel they might trouble Chelsea even more in the second leg - for the simple reason that two big players are to return.

Mehdi Taremi and Sergio Oliveira were both suspended for this leg, with the latter the star force from deep who put Juve to the sword in the previous round.

Add in the set-piece threat that the Portuguese outfit carried in this leg, and it’s clearly far from all over...though that second goal may yet prove crucial.

A less profligate outing from Sergio Conceicao’s side will of course be required, but they are capable - in the same neutral venue - of mounting a comeback. The issue may yet prove to be more about keeping out Chelsea a third time, rather than notching a couple of their own.

Wing-backs stake a claim

The first weeks of Tuchel’s reign saw a quick switch to a 3-4-3, with the wing-backs playing an important tactical role in both halves of the pitch.

While rotations were in evidence, the usual pair selected by the new boss were Marcos Alonso on the left and Callum Hudson-Odoi on the right - but in this first leg, Ben Chilwell and Reece James were firmly in place and excellent throughout.

James was hard-working, a regular out-ball on the counter and provided a switch of play to relieve pressure.

Chilwell looked more confident, defended solidly...and produced a real moment of genius to score what could prove to be the critical goal. Timing, anticipation and no shortage of skill and composure saw him beat three all told, rolling the ball into the ultimately empty net.

Not a bad way to score a first Champions League goal for him, either.

Second-leg security

Both teams have matches before the second leg - mid-table opposition for Porto, similar but for Chelsea in facing Crystal Palace - but in truth, coaching minds will already be wondering how to approach the decisive clash.

Porto must naturally go on the offensive, which may suit Tuchel down to the ground.

While Timo Werner and Kai Havertz were ineffective here, the former might find much more joy next time out with space to counter into. Add in the pace of Christian Pulisic, used here only off the bench, and there’s certainly scope to imagine Chelsea could increase their lead.

Defensively, the West Brom aberration aside, the Blues have been resilient, determined and organised under Tuchel. They’d have fancied their chances with a one-goal lead to defend; with two it could prove an insurmountable challenge for Porto.