"We deserved to go through" - Potter delighted after Champions League victory
(Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Graham Potter heaped praise on his Chelsea players after their 2-1 win over RB Salzburg saw them secure progression from Champions League group E.

Goals from Mateo Kovacic and Kai Havertz in either half, both brilliant finishes from the edge of the box, saw the Blues claim victory despite Junior Adamu briefly drawing the hosts level in the second period.

The win ended Salzburg's incredible 40-game unbeaten streak at home, and means Chelsea remain unbeaten under Potter's tenure. The former Brighton manager was thrilled with his team's resilience in front of a raucous home crowd.

"Delighted. A fantastic performance I thought from the players, they showed real courage. The atmosphere is so intense here, there was a lot of pressure but I thought we controlled it well, attacked well and created some chances. 

"It was hard work, but it’s going to be at this level, that’s how it is. Away form home in the Champions League it’s so complicated with the crowd and the quality of team that they have.

"We were a bit disappointed to only be 1-0 at half time, [then made] one mistake which can happen at this level, but we responded really well. A great goal from Kai and I think overall we deserve to go through. I’m delighted for the payers, they’ve been fantastic."

Chelsea used Christian Pulisic and Raheem Sterling on opposite flanks in order to stretch the Salzburg defence, nominally as wing-backs but with the license to get forward regularly. Potter has rotated his line-up frequently since arriving at Stamford Bridge,, and felt it was a tactical gambit that paid off. 

"I thought it was quite good. We got Raheem in some good areas and Christian as well, and the fact that [Salzburg] have to defend in a back four quite wide allowed big spaces for Conor and Kai to get in.

"In the first half I thought we could have had another couple of goals, but it’s not easy because of how they defend – they’re so good."

Havertz the hero

All three of the goals scored were remarkable, but the pick of the bunch came from Havertz. His winning strike in the 64th minute thundered in off the crossbar, with Potter barely able to conceal his delight on the bench - or when asked about it post-match.

"Amazing. Top corner, it makes my job a lot easier when they can do that!

"It's great for him, I'm really pleased because he’s been fighting and trying his best and has been [so close] to scoring more, so today to score that and help us through is fantastic."

More worryingly, the other goalscorer Kovacic hobbled off with 20 minutes remaining, though the Blues boss didn't sound too concerned about his prospects of  a swift return. 

"He was just feeling his calf a little bit. It was a heavy pitch and there was a bit of tightness, but hopefully it’s not too bad." 

Potter's unbeaten run now stretches to nine games, with six wins in that time. With Champions League qualification now secured, Potter's focus can now shift to the league and trying to close the 7-point gap to leaders Arsenal.

That quest continues with a tasty-looking trip to Potter's former employers Brighton at the weekend. Potter did a magnificent job in his three years in charge of the Seagulls, but having left quite suddenly, could be in for a hostile reception on Saturday afternoon. However, when this was put to him, he was coy.

"Another tough game. A different game but another tough game. Obviously I know the team very well and I know their quality, so I look forward to going back there."

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