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Player Ratings: Chelsea 2-0 (2-1 agg) Borussia Dortmund | Champions League



(Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Graham Potter’s Chelsea are through to the Champions League quarter finals after a 2-1 aggregate win over Borussia Dortmund at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

The Blues came into the evening with it all to do after a snatch and grab at the BVB Stadion Dortmund last month and plenty of misfires since. Yet they were to reap the rewards for their persistence and dogged determination, turning the tie on its head to pen a glorious European chapter in the annuls of west London in the biggest game of their season.

Chances were at a relative premium for the majority of the first period, with the visitors enjoying the brunt of possession after a bright start from the Pensioners. Kepa Arrizabalaga was acrobatically equal to a Marco Reus set piece while Kai Havertz crashed a half volley off the woodwork. But patience was to pay off following a glut of opportunities, with Raheem Sterling eventually firing home in the 43rd minute after being found by a low cross from Ben Chilwell.

It was no less than the Blues deserved following a period of relentless pressure on BVB. Graham Potter could hardly hide his delight – and relief – that his side had drawn level in the tie, setting up a dramatic final 45 minutes or longer on what turned out to be a special night as the gaffer had predicted.

The drama surfaced immediately after the interval, with Marius Wolf adjudged to have handled the ball. Havertz would hit the post from twelve yards, before it was retaken for encroachment and it was second time lucky. It was then the hosts turn to endure the heat, which they did so admirably as the German side rarely had a sniff from there on out.

This was Potter’s finest hour yet, masterminding a victory much greater than the scoreline suggests and that does much to change the tide of opinion in a difficult season. Next up for the Kings of the Kings’ Road is a trip to Leicester City in the Premier League. In the meantime, here’s how Absolute Chelsea rated the players’ performance on the night.

Kepa Arrizabalaga – 7/10

Brilliant one-handed save to deny a sweetly struck Marco Reus free-kick on the fifteen minute mark was the highlight, but he was alive to the danger when called upon otherwise too on what was a fairly pedestrian evening for the former Bilbao stopper.

Wesley Fofana – 7/10

His willingness to look for the ball out and the forward outlet is really pleasing. Whisper it gently but there is a touch of the Antonio Rudiger in his style, aggressive and front-footed. Meat and drink for a starlet returning to fitness.

Kalidou Koulibaly – 8/10

If you can overlook the Senegalese giant somehow conspiring to miss from all of three yards at one end, he was utterly dominant at the other. A machine at clearing his lines, unmatched in the air and impregnable at the heart of the defence. Seems a natural fit in this role, and clearly more confident in continental competition.

Marc Cucurella – 7/10

A tough occasion in terms of magnitude in prospect for the Spaniard, who hasn’t really settled nor endeared himself to the Stamford Bridge faithful since his arrival in the summer. This will have helped. Battled really hard and his breaking of the lines under pressure was pretty much impeccable.

Reece James – 7/10

A fairly anonymous start, with the German outfit able to keep him pinned back. But the joy wasn’t to last. A vicious cross from the young Englishman seemed to inspire impetus among his peers, eventually leading to the goal not long afterwards. Die Borussen caused him no issues whatsoever.

Mateo Kovacic – 8/10 (83)

Looked a tad rusty from the off, having been caught in possession on a number of occasions and seemingly missing the usual pep in his step to glide past opponents in his usual fashion. Yet he eventually got into gear, with his quick feet crucial in the first goal and his years of sage experience important as the Pensioners managed the tie to its conclusion. Led by example.

Enzo Fernandez – 6/10 (87)

Mostly on the periphery of proceedings, noticeably never quite taking up the right positions to receive the ball and not always on the same wavelength as James alongside him. His fighting spirit did however bring some steel to the Chelsea engine room when the going got tough, chipping in with some strong tackles and wise fouls where necessary.

Ben Chilwell – 8/10

It seems readily apparent that Potter has set up his side for the wing-back on the left flank to have greater attacking licence, and it worked to wonderful effect. Marius Wolf was run ragged, and it’s worth applauding that no sooner had Chilwell notched an assist for the opener that he was back in defence to make a vital last-ditch intervention. Also drew the penalty for the second. Excellent.

Raheem Sterling – 8/10 (83)

Sometimes you just need someone with a level-head on their shoulders who has been there and got the badge as far as goalscoring is concerned, especially when goalscoring has been a pretty well documented problem. Up stepped Raheem Sterling, who finally applied the finishing touch and took his goal well after getting the ball from under his feet. Played off the shoulder of the last man on the evening, with limited success given the offside flag usually stopped him in his tracks. But he never stopped working, doing his bit defensively and keeping the Dortmund defence honest with his movement.

Joao Felix – 7/10 (67)

There were moments of genuine quality, with flashes of brilliance on display in his ball-carrying and drawing of fouls. Influence waned a little as the tie reached its scrappy stage, so the substitution was pretty understandable.

Kai Havertz – 9/10

Like a man possessed. His ability to find space in the hole, drive forward, hold up the ball and hold off a Dortmund defence that struggled to compete with him physically, was magnificent. His link-up play was effectively peerless, too. Unlucky to see one attempt hit the post, and even unluckier to see an unbelievable thunderbolt that cannoned into the net ruled out for offside. Arguably luck was on his side to get a second bite of the cherry from the penalty spot, but it took nerves of steel to step up again and fire the same way to atone for his mistake in his newly anointed role. The German has his critics and denigrators – and not always unwarranted – but he was a different animal on the evening and he stood up to be counted.


Conor Gallagher – 6/10 (67)

Brought some much needed fresh legs into proceedings as the visitors pushed to bring about parity. Unfortunate not to get a goal gifted to him on a plate by Sterling.

Christian Pulisic – N/A (83)

Ruben Loftus-Cheek – N/A (83)

Denis Zakaria – N/A (87)