Chelsea eased into the quarter-final of the Champions League for the first time in seven years with a 2-0 victory over Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, completing a 3-0 win on aggregate.
Chelsea took the lead with a goal created by a trio of summer signings who cost more than US$200-million.
Kai Havertz launched a counterattack after Kieran Trippier’s cross was intercepted before releasing Timo Werner to run down the left. Werner sent the ball in for Hakim Ziyech, who placed the shot under goalkeeper Jan Oblak in the 34th minute.
“There were some difficult moments in the game but for most of the time we had it under control,” Ziyech said after his first goal since October. “It was an important goal and I had to wait a long time for it.”
The goal meant the Spanish leaders needed to score twice but their slim chances ended when Stefan Savic was sent off in the 81st minute for elbowing Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger.
Two of Chelsea’s substitutes then combined for the second goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Emerson Palmieri had only been on the pitch a minute when he was set up by Christian Pulisic on the break and he struck just his second goal in three years at Chelsea.
The win further builds on the momentum the London club has built up in the two months since Frank Lampard was fired, with new coach Thomas Tuchel unbeaten in 13 matches with 11 clean sheets.
“The guys protect themselves,” Tuchel said. “Defensive work is about courage and reliability that they can feel safe around each other.”
Luis Suarez symbolized the visitors’ struggles as the striker remained without an away goal in 25 Champions League appearances. He hasn’t netted in any European games in this campaign and was taken off before the hour mark in London.
It was the lack of dynamism that Diego Simeone was left to rue as his decade as Atletico coach won’t be marked by lifting the European Cup for the first time.
“We tried to play with four up top in the first period and press them when they were playing out at the back,” he said. “We couldn’t rob the ball high up like we wanted to. We looked to change our system, tried to press them, but they were able to get through it, they were just better than us. You can’t say more than that. We need to improve.”
This was just the latest setback for Atletico, whose Spanish league lead has dwindled from 10 to four points in recent weeks.
“Of course the fans are going to be hurt, disappointed and annoyed,” Simeone said. “We need to show humility, work hard and move forward.”
However, Chelsea may have been a bit fortunate that Atletico was not awarded a penalty when Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta put an arm around Yannick Carrasco in the Chelsea area in the 25th.
“I was a bit frightened,” Tuchel said.
With Bayern Munich beating Lazio 2-1 to seal a 6-2 aggregate win in the night’s other game, the quarter-final lineup is now complete. England is the best represented country with Liverpool and Manchester City also through. Borussia Dortmund is with Bayern in Friday’s draw, along with Paris Saint-Germain, Porto and record 13-time champion Real Madrid.