Chelsea 2 Atletico Madrid 0 (3-0): Hakim Ziyech fires Blues into Champions League quarters for first time since 2014

THIS is a tight-fisted, mean-spirited, deadly-serious Chelsea team.

Serious enough even to out-smart Diego Simeone’s infamously
street-tough La Liga leaders.

Six straight clean sheets, just two goals conceded in 13 unbeaten
matches under Thomas Tuchel, and into their first Champions League
quarter-final for seven years.

Chelsea’s only two appearances in the European Cup Final have come
after managerial changes during the course of a season – under Avram
Grant in 2008 and Roberto Di Matteo in 2012.

And you wouldn’t bet against Tuchel repeating the feat after this, his
most significant victory since taking over at Stamford Bridge.

Tuchel made it to the final with Paris St Germain last year and nobody
will fancy being paired with his Blues in Friday's last-eight

Chelsea’s six-strong £230million summer recruitment drive did not bear
fruit in time to spare Frank Lampard the sack in January.

But three of that number – Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and goalscorer
Hakim Ziyech, combined to double Chelsea’s aggregate lead with a
classic counter-attacking goal.

The truest heroes of this victory, though were Antonio Rudiger and N’Golo Kante.

Rudiger successfully handcuffed Luis Suarez – the man he’d described
as a ‘pain in the a**e’ in a pre-match interview.

And Kante, back to his Leicester title-winning best, bossed it against
a central-midfield duo as formidable as Atletico’s Koke and Saul

We have banged on about Kante’s ridiculous workrate for five years now
but the Frenchman is about far more than that.

His passing, his movement, his speed of thought, were of the highest
quality in a virtually flawless display.

So far, Tuchel’s Chelsea don’t thrill you, they don’t even cheer you
up, but they do win and they do keep clean sheets.

The German’s restoration of Rudiger into a three-man central defence
has been key.

Rudiger had been frozen out by Lampard, a decision which appears more
daft by the week.

Tuchel is not a crowd-pleaser – an easier thing to be when there is no
crowd to please – and his line-up was conservative.

There was a photo of Olivier Giroud’s overhead kick first-leg winner
on the front of the Chelsea programme but the Frenchman’s name did not
feature in the starting line-up, despite his six Champions League
goals this season.

But those three forward players who did start, conjured the crucial
first-half goal which effectively killed off Atletico.

Havertz was the architect and although the German has yet to fully
click, he could be some player.

They have always loved a bit of subtle artistry around here – from
Mata to Zola to Nevin to Charlie Cooke – and it is felt that Havertz
can provide that sort of vibe.

Tuchel has already defeated Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham and Jurgen
Klopp’s Liverpool but this was his most impressive scalp.

Simeone, the great managerial anti-hero of European football, with the
demeanour of a Scorsese mobster, was well and truly whacked here.

Centre-back Stefan Savic ended up so frustrated he was sent off –
harshly – for a dig in the ribs at Rudiger as Chelsea defended a late

Simeone’s on-field blood-brother, leading scorer Luis Suarez, was
muzzled so efficiently that he was substituted before the hour.

Chelsea – missing the suspended Mason Mount and Jorginho – were
front-footed and lively from the off, Kante all sweat and guile, their
wing-backs high up the pitch.

Marcos Alonso was proving tricky for Atletico’s England full-back
Kieran Trippier – the Bury lad who has developed a decent Spanish
accent by the sound of it – and Reece James teed up Werner, who
screwed a shot wide.

When Suarez got goalside of Rudiger he was barged over on the edge of
the box, Italian ref Daniele Orsato insisting there was nothing doing.

Then, an even bigger let-off for Chelsea as Cesar Azpilicueta made a
pig’s ear of attempting to deal with a Suarez pass, allowing Joao
Felix to get clear of him, then appearing to tug back the Atletico

Both Orasto and his VAR were unconvinced. Only BT Sport’s Peter Walton
agreed with them and he’d have claimed King Herod wasn’t interfering
with play.

Atletico were seething. But just as they started to look menacing,
Chelsea struck on the break.

Havertz surged forward and fed a motoring Werner, who squared for
Ziyech to slot home.

Jan Oblak, widely regarded as the best keeper on the planet, might
have done better.

But Chelsea were full of it now, fizzing around their passes, Rudiger
rumbling forward but skying his shot, Mateo Kovacic bending one wide.

After the break, Werner cut in from the right and forced Oblak to save
smartly at his near post – then the Atletico keeper tipped over a
Ziyech 20-yarder.

Suarez was withdrawn as Simeone became desperate and when Savic
received his marching orders, it was all over for Atletico.

Chelsea completed the job deep in injury-time, when Emerson – who'd
just arrived as a sub, finished off another breakaway with a low drive
into the far corner.

Tuchel’s Chelsea are a lean, mean and dangerous proposition, even to
Europe’s finest.

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