Azpilicueta: ‘Champions League is where Chelsea belong’

Nicholas Mendola

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta is happy his side earned its spot in the knockout round with a convincing 2-1 win over Lille that flattered to deceive the French visitors to Stamford Bridge.

Azpilicueta scored what would stand as the decisive goal, as Chelsea finished second to Valencia and clinched a place in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.

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[ MORE: Match recap | Pulisic Watch ]

“Champions League is where Chelsea belong,” Azpilicueta said. “We know it was a tough group. Last year’s semi-finalists Ajax have been knocked out.”

The Blues opened the group stage with a 1-0 home loss to Valencia, then beat Lille before taking four fo six points from Ajax.

A 2-2 draw with the eventual group winners in Spain meant Chelsea needed a win in London.

“We had to fight and recover after losing against Valencia at home in our first game. But now we are in the last 16 the focus has to switch back to the Premier League until the competition starts again next year.”

Manager Frank Lampard is happy his side progressed to the next stage, but didn’t like that the Blues finished poorly to leave the door open for Lille.

“With the young players we have in this side there will be bumps in the road,”  Lampard said, via the BBC. “I push them and can be quite hard on them, setting the high standards I want to see them reach, but at the same time I have to be patient. Today was a sign of how much work we still have got to do. It should have been a calmer finish to the game and that is the biggest thing, for me, that we need to improve.”

Chelsea hosts Bournemouth at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday.

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