Thomas Tuchel celebrated an “unbelievable team effort” from his Chelsea side to down Atletico Madrid and make the Champions League quarter-finals but admitted they got “a bit of luck” in their 2-0 triumph. Tuchel however insists he is looking forward to the draw on Friday after the Blues made “a big step” to reach the next stage.
Chelsea cruised into the last eight of the competition for the first time since the 2013-14 season courtesy of a dominant display at Stamford Bridge.
Hakim Ziyech essentially put the tie to bed when he made it 2-0 on aggregate after 34 minutes from Timo Werner’s low cross.
And Emerson Palmieri gave Chelsea the scoreline that they deserved with a stoppage-time strike into the bottom corner to make it 2-0 on the night and 3-0 across both legs.
That came after Atletico defender Stefan Savic was sent off for elbowing Antonio Rudiger, although Chelsea got lucky not to have had Cesar Azpilicueta sent off in the first half.
The Spaniard might have given away a penalty when he put his arm across Yannick Carrasco inside the box at 0-0, the Belgian tumbling to the turf.
Referee Daniele Orsato gave nothing despite the contact, however, and VAR opted not to review the incident despite calls for a spot-kick from La Liga leaders Atletico.
And aside from that and one late save, Chelsea were comfortable and deserved victors with the likes of Luis Suarez and Joao Felix brilliantly nullified.
The trio of Thiago Silva, Jorginho and Mason Mount – all unavailable due to injury and suspension – were spotted celebrating together up in the stands after Emerson’s late goal.
And Tuchel even acknowledged the three as Chelsea went 13 games unbeaten, the longest streak without defeat to start a manager’s tenure at the London club in their history, having kept 11 clean sheets in that time.
The German manager looks to have turned Chelsea into real contenders for a second ever Champions League crown and said to BT Sport after the full-time whistle: “A very good performance, unbelievable team effort from the guys on the pitch, the guys on the bench, even the guys in the stands.
“You could really feel that everyone totally wanted it and we got through, deserved. A good win for us.
“We had the possibility to hurt them on a counter-attack. They tried to press us very high in the first half. But they opened up some spaces in the back of the midfield and we could exploit it to score a fantastic goal that gave us a lot of confidence.
“After that we had chances shortly after to score a second goal and decide but it was not possible.
“Second half there were many minutes where we also suffered but we were ready to do what was it was necessary to do and it was another top performance with a deserved win.
“We missed Andreas (Christensen) today who got ill overnight, we’ve missed Thiago (Silva) for many weeks.
“They are big personalities and big quality for us, and Zou (Kurt Zouma) steps up, I tell him in the morning, ‘you’ll play’ and he steps up and gives a performance like this.
“I think the guys protect themselves. Defensive work is about team-work, it’s about courage, but also about reliability, that they can feel safe around each other.
“That’s what it takes, plus a good goalkeeper and a bit of luck, and that’s another clean sheet.
“We know that we cannot find solutions with our offensive play, we will always rely on our physical strength and the capability to play an intensive game because we know we are used to it in the Premier League.
“We were absolutely not afraid to put this game on a physical level if we didn’t get the offensive solutions all the time, because it is hard to create chances against them.
“It’s hard to enjoy games, they are a very tough team to play, but we are as well so we enjoyed the battle.”
On the contentious penalty decision, Tuchel insisted he did not see the incident closely but admitted he was panicking on the touchline.
Champions League quarter-final draw details
WHO’S IN THE DRAW?
Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Porto, Paris Saint-Germain.
WHEN IS IT?
The quarter-final draw will be conducted at 11am UK time on Friday March 19.
HOW CAN I WATCH IT?
The draw can be streamed live on the BT Sport Twitter account and the official UEFA Champions League website.
Express Sport will also provide live text coverage of proceedings from Nyon, Switzerland.