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Tuchel pleased after Chelsea reach semis

AP/London
Filed on April 14, 2021
(Chelsea Twitter)

A spectacular goal from a scissor kick by Mehdi Taremi wasn't enough to earn Porto a place in the Champions League semifinals


The cross from the right was curling away from goal at shoulder height when Mehdi Taremi took off, connecting with a spectacular scissor kick that sent the ball into the top corner from 12 meters out.

A beautiful goal — arguably the best in the Champions League this season — to settle an ugly match.

It wasn’t enough for Porto.

Chelsea qualified for the semifinals for the first time since 2014 despite a 1-0 loss to the Portuguese champions on Tuesday, the English team going through 2-1 on aggregate to meet either Real Madrid or Liverpool for a place in the final.

Aside from Taremi’s stunning, acrobatic effort in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time, Chelsea successfully stifled Porto in what proved to be something of an arm-wrestle and was happy to rely on the away goals scored by Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell in the first leg, which was also played in Seville because of coronavirus restrictions.

It wasn’t pretty but Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel didn’t care.

“I can imagine that both games were not the nicest games to watch on the television for spectators who look for entertainment,” Tuchel said. “I can totally accept that, but it’s very hard to play your best game against Porto.

“Part of a performance is not letting your opponent perform. This is what they do and this is what we do also. Today was the day to hang in.”

The niggly nature of the quarterfinal extended to the sidelines, with Tuchel and Sergio Conceicao exchanging words at the final whistle and the Porto coach showing his frustration by cutting short his post-match news conference after questions about the confrontation.

Tuchel shrugged it off. He has bigger concerns, firstly an FA Cup semifinal match against Manchester City on Saturday and then a second straight Champions League semifinal on a personal basis. Last year, he was at this stage with Paris Saint-Germain and advanced to the final, where his team lost to Bayern Munich.

PSG avenged that loss by knocking out Bayern on Tuesday, progressing on away goals after losing the second leg 1-0.

Tuchel doesn’t have the star quality of PSG at his disposal at Chelsea, just a young, hard-working squad which is exceeding expectations — albeit despite a spending spree of around $300 million in the last offseason.

“We take it like an adventure,” he said. “It’s a big step to be in a semifinal for them. This is a very, very big achievement.

“You see the last time Chelsea has been in a semifinal, so we are not used to being there ... We need every minute to learn, to grow. You cannot improve without these experiences.”

Under Tuchel, who replaced the fired Frank Lampard in January, Chelsea has only conceded one goal in four knockout matches, having nullified Atletico Madrid in the last 16. While he has largely sorted out the team’s defense, Chelsea’s attack is still a work in progress and will likely need to improve if they are to win the competition for a second time, after 2012.





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