Cesar Azpilicueta scored Chelsea’s winning goal for the Champions League quarter-finals in a 2-1 win over Lille on Wednesday.
Amid doubts about Chelsea’s ability to travel and play in Europe due to EU sanctions imposed on owner Roman Abramovich, the Blues kept their continental campaign alive by securing 4th place in the Champions League draw.
Burak Yilmaz gave Lille a one-point lead at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, but Christian Pulisic equalized three minutes into added time.
Xeka hit Lille’s post in the second half, but Azpilicueta dashed his hopes of advancing, leaving Chelsea in a quarter-final tie.
Chelsea struggled to convert their dominance of possession into first-half chances and saw Andreas Christensen trip on the ground injured in the 33rd minute.
Lille were awarded a penalty when Jorginho allegedly threw the ball after referee Davide Massa saw the video, and Yilmaz kicked it home to halve the overall deficit.
However, Chelsea re-established the link with a two-goal equalizer before half-time when Pulisic headed into the bottom left corner following a superb cross from Jorginho.
Yilmaz shot wide shortly after the restart, Antonio Rüdiger deflected a mid-volley from the edge of the penalty area just past the post, in the 10th minute.
Xeka headed a Yilmaz cross towards the crossbar, before Azpilicueta received a Mason Mount cross at the far post and sent the ball to Leo Jardim in the 71st minute.
What this means? Tuchel’s story
Thomas Tuchel refereed his 50th Champions League game at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy and made history by beating Lille.
It was his 32nd championship victory, the most won by a coach in half a century. He surpassed Zinedine Zidane’s goal, who won 31 of his first 50 games as manager in the Champions League.
Cesar is a guy you can trust.
Azpilicueta marked moving level with Didier Drogba on 74 major European appearances for Chelsea with a finish the iconic striker would have been proud of. Frank Lampard (115) and John Terry (121) are the only outfielders to have played more continental games for the Blues.
Burak strikes back
Yilmaz was an unlikely hero in Lille’s Ligue 1 title fight last season and did his best to help them face another clash against Chelsea. At 36 years 244 days, he became the third oldest player to score in the Champions League, behind only Ryan Giggs (37 years 148 days) and Paolo Maldini (36 years 333 days).
Chelsea are in the FA Cup quarter-finals in Middlesbrough on Saturday when Lille travel to Nantes in Ligue 1.