Chelsea speed past Real Madrid and into Champions League final after waiting so long

Chelsea 2-0 Real Madrid (3-1 agg): Timo Werner and Mason Mount struck to set up an all-English final

Miguel Delaney
Stamford Bridge
Wednesday 05 May 2021 22:12
<p>Timo Werner (left) nodded home a rebound to open the scoring for Chelsea</p>

Timo Werner (left) nodded home a rebound to open the scoring for Chelsea

After a wait of nine years, Chelsea end up speeding back to the Champions League final.

This 3-1 aggregate win over Real Madrid was far closer than it should have been, but the real story of the tie – and almost these last four months – was the huge gaps after Thomas Tuchel’s blue arrows left so many white shirts for dust.

It was a 2-0 on the night that could have been a 6-0, and brings Chelsea’s third ever Champions League final, to make it a third all-English showpiece.

They will hold no fear of Manchester City, having just beaten them in the FA Cup, with another meeting at this very stadium on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola’s side may feel a sense of destiny this season, but the current reality is that Chelsea will give them a much harder game than a dismal Madrid.

They just couldn’t keep up with Chelsea, in so many senses.

It is sorry performances like these that add a greater sense of gall to Florentino Perez’s push for a Super League, but then that is partly the reason. They look left behind, just as so many Chelsea players surged away from them.

Tuchel has meanwhile had a dramatically rapid effect of his own. This final is a testament to him. There will be talk of how this is as much Frank Lampard’s final, but the truth is that the German has arrested a crisis situation with impressive speed.

The only flaw remains that finishing.

It wasn’t a night to rue in the end, but only celebrate.

Madrid really looked set to collapse any time Chelsea broke, which served as a symbolic illustration of the difference in profile between the sides.

There were just gaps appearing everywhere, which blue shirts were flooding into. Madrid had been served warning before the opening goal, with the ball in the net, only for Timo Werner to stray offside.

There could be no such mistake with the eventual goal. And certainly no missing.

This was not just Chelsea breaking, though. It was resolve, perseverance, and some perfect combinations.

There was also the impetus of N’Golo Kante. So often cast as a destroyer, the French midfielder flowed forward here in such a smooth manner. It was almost like an Eden Hazard run – when he was at his sharpest.

Having first surged forward to initially cause panic, Kante played a one-touch one-two with Werner, with the way the German peeled off making it all the more wondrous.

Kante then played in Kai Havertz to finish what could have been one of the great semi-final goals. His deft chip was just that bit too high, but not high enough to go over. The ball bounced off the bar and gave Werner the easiest of finishes.

It might not have been the goal it could have been, but it was still priceless to Chelsea. It was the insurance goal, which ensured there wasn’t the same paralysing danger out of any Madrid strike.

That was if they could conjure one, though. Both of their best first-half attempts were speculative rather than specifically planned or manufactured.

Mason Mount scored a late second to put the result beyond doubt for Chelsea

Toni Kroos, who so often looked like he would need to take responsibility himself, attempted one fine long shot that Edouard Mendy did brilliantly to palm away. The goalkeeper then did even better with his save from Karim Benzema’s arched header, but there was still an element of hitting and hoping to it all.

They couldn’t even get that far as the game went on, with every ball in just met by one of Chelsea’s defenders – but especially Antonio Rudiger. This was the pattern of the entire second half. A Chelsea player would head it away, their attackers would counter-attack at pace… but they would almost be too fast to be precise.

This happened time and time again, to the point it felt like it was inevitably building up to one of those classic sucker punches.

Every Chelsea miss only made it worse, especially as the opportunities were getting better. Thibaut Courtois did superbly to block down Kante, before Silva headed just wide.

It was almost like the paradox of the frog who jumps half his last length with every leap. They were getting closer and closer, but never quite getting there.

That made every moment of the last 10 minutes more tense, every miss feel like it was more important.

It was Chelsea’s most important player of the season that ultimately – fittingly – put them over the line. The brilliant Mason Mount, who is probably only rivalled by Kante in terms of recent effect, finally put the ball over the line.

The all-English hero completed the job, and completed an all-English final.

Chelsea are racing to Istanbul, having waited so long.

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