After defeating Real Madrid in the semifinals on Wednesday, Chelsea ensured that the Champions League final will be an all-English affair this season.
The Blues were tied 1-1 going into the second leg, but goals from Timo Werner and Mason Mount settled the tie, putting them in a Premier League showdown with Manchester City.
Chelsea has reached the final of European football’s most coveted competition for the first time in nine years, finally winning the title in 2012, and manager Thomas Tuchel says his side will head into it with optimism.
“We deserved to win. The first half was difficult, they had a lot of possession and made us suffer,” Tuchel said after the match.
“In the second half we could have scored so much earlier, so much more to be safe, but now is no time for criticism. It is a fantastic achievement and big congratulations to the team. It is not done yet, we want to go all the way, we arrive in Istanbul to win.”
Chelsea’s night could have been made a lot easier if they had converted a few golden chances.
Mount, Werner, and Kai Havertz all squandered chances for the hosts, allowing Real Madrid to reclaim the lead.
Karim Benzema and Luka Modric pressured Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy into some saves, but Madrid never looked like they would advance.
“We should have had about five, but the most important thing is that we won,” Chelsea midfielder Mount said after the game.
Tuchel only took over as Blues manager in January after the sacking of club legend Frank Lampard, but he has already changed the club’s fortunes. Chelsea has won 16 games and reached both the Champions League and FA Cup finals under his leadership.
The former coach of Paris Saint-Germain, who lost in the Champions League final to Bayern Munich last season, has instilled a winning culture in the club and gotten the most out of expensive summer signings like Werner and Havertz.
“I’m very, very happy that we’ve achieved this,” Tuchel added, saying his sacrifices this year have been worth it.
“I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to live my life in football. To have this passion as a profession. I’m more than grateful and to do it on this level. I’m very thankful.”
The final, which will take place on May 29 in Istanbul, will be the second all-English final in three seasons, following Liverpool’s victory over Tottenham in 2019.
Tuchel understands that the new Manchester City side is a somewhat different prospect than the 13-time European champion Real Madrid.
Last month, Chelsea beat City in the FA Cup semifinals, but Pep Guardiola’s team has looked dominant in the Champions League this season.
“For me, Bayern Munich with Manchester City are the benchmarks (in European football) and we wanted to close the gap to City,” Tuchel told reporters.
“This one match in the semifinal, we did that with a very impressive performance and we need that again. It gave us belief and confidence for every game after that, because it’s the highest level you can face.”
This year marks the first time that a club’s men’s and women’s teams have both qualified for the Champions League final.
Chelsea Women take on Barcelona on May 16, and they have a chance to win the quadruple for the first time since Arsenal in 2007 when they won the Champions League, Women’s Super League, FA Cup, and League Cup.