Chelsea 2-0 Dortmund (Agg 2-1): Havertz’s Re-Taken Penalty Seals Memorable Comeback for Blues
Defeat in this round of 16 ties would have placed Potter in grave danger of losing a job he only started in September but this 2-0 victory, which came hard on the heels of Chelsea’s Premier League win over Leeds on Saturday, gave him some precious breathing space and provided the most conclusive evidence so far that he is learning how to shepherd the lavish but bloated squad at his disposal.
He got a little bit of luck at last, too. Raheem Sterling, who had not scored since January 1, profited from a wild miskick to put Chelsea ahead on the night just before halftime, and a twice-taken penalty from Kai Havertz early in the second half put them 2-1 ahead on aggregate. After the agonies he has endured, It would be hard to argue that Potter didn’t deserve a break.
This was, without doubt, Potter’s biggest victory in his short tenure at Chelsea. Dortmund is level on points with Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga and had won their previous ten games on the spin. The win bridged a credibility gap for Potter, too. He has led his team to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, where they will mix again with European royalty. He is edging his way slowly into the elite.
He knows, too, that winning the tournament this season might be the only way of qualifying for it next season. Chelsea is tenth in the Premier League, 11 points behind fourth-placed Spurs, and even though Spurs are a team walking through a treacle, that still feels like an improbable target, even before factoring in Liverpool’s recent momentum in their ascent towards the Champions League places.
It was said in the build-up to the match that Germany forward Karim Adeyemi, who scored the winner in the first leg but was ruled out of this match by injury, would be a big miss for the visitors. It begged the question of whether there is anybody in Chelsea’s £1bn squad who would be considered a big miss or a miss of any sort at all.