Chelsea's German defender Antonio Rudiger (R) tackles Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema
Chelsea's German defender Antonio Rudiger (R) tackles Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema
AFP

London: Frank Lampard's name has hardly been forgotten by the Chelsea fans, there were chants outside Stamford Bridge before kickoff on Wednesday, new manager Thomas Tuchel is quickly creating his own legacy after leading the London club into the Champions League final against Manchester City.

Chelsea even made record 13-time European Cup champion Real Madrid look ordinary as goals from Timo Werner and Mason Mount sealed a 2-0 victory that ousted Madrid 3-1 on aggregate.

A high-tempo opening produced few chances and the tie did not take a decisive turn until midway though the first half. Then Edouard Mendy made a full-length save to thwart Karim Benzema and, shortly after, Chelsea took the lead when Timo Werner nodded in after Kai Havertz's clipped finish cannoned off the bar.

Havertz rattled the woodwork again soon after half-time and Mason Mount fired over as the hosts continued to create, but spurn, clear chances. Thibaut Courtois kept the Merengues alive with one-on-one saves from Havertz and N'Golo Kante; however, his resistance was finally ended when substitute Christian Pulišić crossed for Mount to tap in late on.

Perhaps the stragglers leaving the bars near Stamford Bridge could hear the roar Tuchel let out on the field inside the empty stadium long after his players had departed the field. It will certainly have been heard in the Chelsea boardroom by the directors whose decision to dismiss Lampard in January and hire Tuchel now seems vindicated.

"I am very grateful and thankful to have this opportunity," said Tuchel, who'd been dismissed by Paris Saint-Germain in December despite leading the French club to last year's Champions League final.

"You can never be ahead of plan as a manager and as a player, it does not exist."

Just like when owner Roman Abramovich made mid-season managerial changes in the 2007-08 and 2011-12 seasons, Chelsea will end the campaign by contesting the biggest game in European football.

And by the end of the month two Champions League trophies could be at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea the first club to reach the men's and women's finals in the same season.

Even though the men's showpiece will be an all-English encounter on May 29, the Premier League rivals will have to fly four hours to play the UEFA showpiece in Istanbul, which is currently in a coronavirus lockdown.

While City has never lifted the European Cup, Chelsea's only triumph came in 2012 when the 22-year-old Mount was in the youth system.

Unlike last season's final, when Tuchel's PSG lost to Bayern Munich, fans are set to be allowed in. Chelsea supporters have yet to see Tuchel managing their team in the flesh due to England's ongoing coronavirus restrictions. But they can't deny the impact he has made.

Chelsea was five points outside the four Champions League qualification places when he was hired, but heads into the final four games of the Premier League season in fourth place with a three-point cushion.

There's a chance to pick up a trophy before the trip to Turkey, too, with an FA Cup final against Leicester on May 15 after beating City in the semifinals.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is left to focus on trying on wiping out Atletico Madrid's two-point lead in Spain to win La Liga, rather than adding to the three Champions League titles he won from 2016 to 2018.

"I think we tried, but the truth is today Chelsea were superior and we have to congratulate them," Zidane said.

For all Chelsea's threat, Madrid only needed to score once to force the second leg into extra time. When the second half opened with Havertz heading against the crossbar and having a low shot saved it looked like the misses could prove costly.

The stats

Chelsea have not lost a home match in which they scored the first goal in this competition since their 3-1 defeat by Atlético in the 2014 semi-finals.

Thomas Tuchel (W2 D4) is the only manager to face Real Madrid six times in the competition without suffering a defeat.

Mount became the first English goalscorer in the semi-finals since Wayne Rooney for Manchester United against Schalke just over ten years ago (26 April 2011).

Chelsea became the sixth club to score 300 goals in the UEFA Champions League (group stage to final) after Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, Manchester United and Juventus.

Madrid have scored in 24 of their last 26 UEFA Champions League knockout phase matches. Both blanks came against English clubs - Liverpool and Chelsea.

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