Chelsea advanced into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 2-1 victory (4-1 on aggregate) over Lille following goals from Christian Pulisic and Cesar Azpilicueta.
The European champions once again put their off-field troubles aside and delivered a fine performance to overcome the Ligue 1 club.
Chelsea did fall behind during the first half when Burak Yilmaz netted from the penalty spot after Jorginho was penalized for handball, but Pulisic crucially equalized in first-half added time.
Azpilicueta then put the tie beyond doubt with less than 20 minutes to play by converting a cross from substitute Mason Mount with his knee.
Chelsea have shown no signs of being distracted by the sale of the club with this their fifth consecutive victory since Roman Abramovich announced he would be ending his ownership.
Lille: Jardim (6), Çelik (6), Fonte (5), Botman (6), Djalo (6), Bamba (6), Andre (6), Xeka (6), Gudmundsson (6), Yilmaz (8), David (6).
Subs: Ben Arfa (6), Gomes (6), Weah (6), Onana (6), Bradaric (6)
Chelsea: Mendy (7), Christensen (6), Thiago Silva (7), Rudiger (7), Azpilicueta (8), Kante (7), Jorginho (7), Kovacic (6), Alonso (7), Pulisic (8) , Havertz (7).
Subs: Chalobah (6), Mount (7), Loftus-Cheek (6), Lukaku (6), Ziyech (n / a).
Man of the match: Cesar Azpilicueta
How Chelsea progressed into the last eight
Lille tried to start quickly but Chelsea weathered their early storm, although center-back Andreas Christensen had to be substituted with what looked like a hamstring injury and was replaced by Trevoh Chalobah.
The hosts took their chance to get back into the game during a drab opening period. Jorginho was penalized for handball after a VAR check instructed referee Davide Massa to watch the incident on the pitchside monitor. Yilmaz powerfully side-footed the spot kick into the top-right corner to reduce the aggregate deficit to one goal.
Chelsea: Cesar Azpilicueta came back into the side after illness with Chelsea lining up in a 3-5-2 formation.
Thiago Silva returned at the back while Marcos Alonso started at left-wing back.
Mateo Kovacic lined up in central midfield and Christian Pulisic partnered Kai Havertz up front.
Trevoh Chalobah, Malang Sarr, Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner dropped to the bench from Chelsea’s victory over Newcastle.
Lille: Renato Sanches came off injured in their previous match against St-Etienne and was replaced by Benjamin Andre.
Hatem Ben Arfa surprisingly dropped to the bench with Burak Yılmaz taking his place.
But Chelsea kept their composure and at the end of a patient passing move, Jorginho slipped in Pulisic to slot home a crucial equalizer on the night with almost the last kick of the half.
Lille should have led the second leg once more during the second half but Xeka headed a Yilmaz cross against the post from close range.
Chelsea punished the miss when Mount got down the left side and crossed for the excellent Azpilicueta, who converted at the back post to put the tie beyond doubt.
Marcos Alonso made his 200th appearance for Chelsea tonight since signing in August 2016.
Tuchel: Chelsea has “football-first” culture
Tuchel praised his side’s focus after their latest – and best – victory amid the off-field troubles at Chelsea.
“Brilliant, brilliant and so nice so many fans are here to support the team,” he told BT Sport. “We’re in the quarter-finals, it’s a big step and we showed again resilience and mentality, and overcame difficulties. We did what was necessary, dug in and got a deserved win. It’s difficult here [at Lille]well done to the team.
“Chelsea has this kind of culture within the club and the building where we work every day. What I found from day one is this football-first mentality. Everybody pushes the first team every three days to the limit and is focused on football first.
“This is the culture and it is already installed, and this helps us now to focus when the times are difficult, distracted because it’s already there – we don’t need to install it now.
“Of course, we encourage the players and I feel a part of all of this but I’m just a part and that’s why it feels so good that we can still produce results. I’m very proud.”
- Lille have lost more UEFA Champions League matches against Chelsea (4) than against any other opponent in the competition.
- Chelsea have won their last six UEFA Champions League matches against French sides, one more victory than in their previous 16 such encounters in the competition combined (W5 D5 L6).
- Chelsea have won four consecutive knockout stage games in the UEFA Champions League for just the second time, last doing so in the 2011-12 season when going on to beat Bayern Munich on penalties in the final.
- Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has won 32 of his 50 UEFA Champions League matches as a manager, equalling Josef Heynckes (32 wins from 47 matches in total) as the coach with the most victories inside his first 50 matches in the competition.
- Lille’s Burak Yilmaz (36y 244d) became the third oldest scorer in the UEFA Champions League knock-out stages, after Paolo Maldini (36y 333d) and Ryan Giggs (37y 148d), while only Cristiano Ronaldo (6) and Filippo Inzaghi (4) have scored more goals in the competition aged 36 or older than the Turkish striker (3).
- Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic has either scored (2) or assisted (1) in three consecutive UEFA Champions League games for the first time, netting in both legs in the round of 16 against Lille. Five of his seven goals about him in the competition have come away from home.
- César Azpilicueta made his 74th appearance in a major European game for Chelsea (UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup / Europa League, Cup Winners’ Cup, Fairs Cup), leaving only Frank Lampard (115) and John Terry (121) with more such appearances to their name as outfielders in the club’s history.
When is the draw for the quarter-finals?
The Champions League quarter-final draw will take place on Friday, March 18 at 11am UK time, with the balls being drawn out at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
The semi-finals will be drawn at the same time, meaning clubs and fans can plot out their potential route to the Paris final.
The list of qualified teams are:
- Bayern Munich
- Manchester City
- real Madrid
- Atletico Madrid
Chelsea are in FA Cup quarter-final action on Saturday evening when they travel to Middlesbrough; kick-off 5.15pm.
Their next Premier League match is not until April 2 when Thomas Tuchel’s side host Brentford; kick-off 3pm.
Meanwhile, Lille travel to Nantes in Lige 1 on Saturday; kick-off 8pm.