By OMA | 11-12-2019 | Sports |
CHELSEA FC Faithfulls holding tight.
Rudiger returns was a big boost for Blues that showed so much Resilience against Lille.
Frank Lampard and his Young Chelsea side did not have it easy on the night but they still got the outcome they wanted and worked hard for with qualification to face the best of the best in Europe's top flight competition.
Tammy Abraham had earlier taken a non decisive shot but was flicked into Mike Maignan's goal, this single incidence should have doused the tensions for a Chelsea side that kept probing
Since after the international break, it has been a really trying three weeks for Chelsea.
The Lampard Boys were soon to be paid for their consistent and persistent dominance in possession But tensions popped up once again on what should have been a straightforward night as Chelsea showed some of their same old faults in a 2-1 victory over French league 1 side Lille.
Chelsea's dominace was so much that the match almost looked like a completely one-sided affair with Chelsea desperate to end a run that saw them win just once in five games, including the unforgettable 3-1 loss away to Everton at the weekend in what was later adjudged a poor performance.
Lille had started the match by resting their stars with little to play for at Stamford Bridge.
Lille Manager Christophe Galtier left out the likes of Victor Osimhen, Jonathan Ikone and Jonathan Bamba.
Chelsea built on Abraham's eighth opening goal and 13th of the season connecting with an easy header from Cesar Azpilicueta in the 34th minute.
Antonio Rudiger's return was met with chants of 'Ruuud' from the Matthew Harding End and he completed his first 90 minutes since April 28 amid a spate of poor recent defensive performances.
Still just 26, he ranks as the Blues' most experienced centre-back and although he was rarely tested by the declining ex-Blue Loic Remy, he will be a key asset in coming weeks.
Christian Pulisic immediately worked himself a chance after kick-off but Tiago Djalo's scuffed clearance moments later fell to Willian on the penalty spot. Maignan saved his shot but, on this night, Chelsea had those big chances to spare.
Lampard has been highly critical of his side at both ends of the pitch, giving 'home truths' ahead of the match , but they once again needed to learn a lesson.
The calm and peace that had lived long in the freezing air at Stamford Bridge turned hot with anxiety with Remy's shock goal in the 78th minute. Fortunately for the Blues, for the rest of the match he didn't look like the striker Chelsea signed in 2014.
N'Golo Kante, Pulisic, Willian and Emerson could have all killed the game but it ended 2-1, though, it should have been won by more. Yusuf Yazici's late strike was somewhat of a scare but it would have been more than Les Dogues deserve.
The most important thing though was to get to the next stage of the Champions League and the west Londoners can be proud that they managed to navigate what was a difficult group.
Indeed, they did not finish top of Group H. Valencia shocked Ajax in Amsterdam with a 1-0 win to finish above the Blues on the head-to-head.
Lampard won't care though, and he will worry about his opponent on Monday when UEFA conduct their draw for the business end of the competition in 2020. They have now qualified for 15 out of the last 16 group stages in this competition, as the Europa League champions haved shown they belong at this level again.
Lampard reflects on Chelsea's resilient route to Champions League knockout stages This result also allows the Blues to draw a line under a bad spell as Lampard took a tough stance and delivered some 'home truths'. One of the truths has been poor form in their own stadium but this result is another step to ending that anxiety in their own dressing room and beyond it.
Next up is five Premier League games in quick succession with Manchester United and Tottenham gaining ground on them in recent weeks.
Chelsea can continue to dream of the final in Istanbul, although they'll have to be just a bit better to keep those hopes alive going forward.