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Thomas Tuchel’s Romelu Lukaku Gamble Pays Off As Chelsea Take Control of Champions League Last-16 Tie

Kai Havertz was on target as Chelsea beat Champions League rivals Lille (Picture: Getty)

Champions League holders Chelsea have one foot in the quarter-finals of the 2021-22 competition after beating French champions Lille 2-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Kai Havertz’s first-half header and Christian Pulisic’s second-half goal saw Chelsea take control of the Champions League tie at Stamford Bridge.

Thomas Tuchel’s decision to bench club-record signing Romelu Lukaku dominated headlines prior to the match, but the gamble more than paid off as Chelsea proved too strong for Ligue 1 side Lille.

Chelsea, who are currently third in the Premier League and face Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday, travel to Lille on March 16 as they look to secure their place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Club World Cup winners Chelsea finished second in Group H behind Juventus and could have faced the likes of Bayern Munich or Real Madrid, but their prospects of retaining the trophy they won last May were seemingly boosted when they drew Lille, who have struggled since winning the French title last season.

Chelsea made a superb start to the tie, with Havertz forcing Lille goalkeeper Leo Jardim into a fine save before the German headed home an early opener from the subsequent corner.

At that stage it appeared as though Chelsea could sweep Lille aside, but the visitors regained their composure and began to threaten Edouard Mendy’s goal without creating many clear-cut chances.

Christian Pulisic scored Chelsea’s second (Picture: Getty)

Hakim Ziyech, who would later hobble off alongside Mateo Kovacic with an injury, and Marcos Alonso both went close after half-time but Lille coped well with the pressure to stay in the contest.

Chelsea doubled their advantage just after the hour mark, however, when Pulisic raced onto a pass from N’Golo Kante before dinking the ball into the net.

More to follow…

Original Article: metro.co.uk

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