Chelsea cruise past Lille to put themselves in control of Champions League Round of 16 tie
Christian Pulisic doubles Chelsea's lead (Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

It was a fairly straightforward night for Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea at Stamford Bridge as they beat Group G winners Lille in the first-leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie. 

Goals from Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic gave the Blues the win in a contest that saw record summer signing Romelu Lukaku left on the bench. 

Story of the match

The tie got off to a bright-start for the newly crowned Champions of the World, who donned the famous gold badge after beating Palmeiras in the FIFA Club World Cup final in Abu Dhabi just under a fortnight ago. 

The man for the big occasion, Kai Havertz headed home in the seventh minute, with the French side already given scares earlier on after the German missed two opportunities before making it count. 

Hakim Ziyech’s out swinging corner was met by the former Bayer Leverkusen man, who headed down into the near post beating goalkeeper Leonardo Jardim. 

After an early goal though, Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side sustained large amounts of pressure, although the Ligue 1 side failed to create any real opportunity.

Renato Sanches’ cross-shot went close after Antonio Rudiger’s attempted clearance sliced just over the bar.

Portuguese international Sanches was heavily involved for Lille, with the midfielder almost certain to attract interest from clubs across Europe after it was reported earlier this week that the 24-year-old had refused to pen a new deal.

The second-half got off to an end-to-end start, although both teams failed to capitalise on any real chances. 

That changed on 63 minutes, when N’Golo Kante’s run followed a short through ball to American international Christian Pulisic, who’s scuffed dink gave the hosts a two-goal advantage. 

Before the hour mark, Thomas Tuchel was forced into making two chances. In-form Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech trudged off with injuries.

Post match, Tuchel said: “I should have substituted Kovacic at half-time so we could have saved one more change. I have not spoken to the doctor yet with Hakim [Ziyech]. I hope it is not too much.”

Takeaways from the match

The result sees Chelsea in control of the tie, with the second-leg set to take place on March 16 at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.

This Sunday’s League Cup final is the first of four fixtures Chelsea play in, before travelling across the channel to France.

The current Champions League holders come up against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at Wembley in a competition the Blues’ have won four times previously.

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