Chelsea survive late scare against Lille to reach Champions League last 16

Tom HomewoodAssistant Producer

Chelsea are through to the Champions League knockout stages despite a nervy finale, beating Lille 2-1 at a wet and windy Stamford Bridge.

Tammy Abraham opened the scoring for the Blues before Cesar Azpilicueta doubled their advantage as they continued to control the first half at a canter.

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The home side had chances to kill the game off but failed to take them, before former Blues striker Loic Remy pulled one back for Lille which silenced the crowd in London.

During a nail-biting final 12 minutes Michy Batshuayi missed chances to secure Chelsea’s place in the last 16, while Remy wasted chances to knock them out.

Frank Lampard’s side held on and finished second in Group H behind Valencia, who beat Ajax away from home, knocking last season’s semi-finalists out of the competition.

Abraham celebrates scoring the opener (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Abraham celebrates scoring the opener (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Antonio Rudiger, who made his first appearance since September, Jorginho and Emerson all came in for Lampard’s side ahead of kick-off.

Remy led the line for Lille, with former Southampton defender Jeremy Pied making his Champions League debut.

After a quiet start in the pouring rain at Stamford Bridge, it was the home side that had the first real chance of note.

Christian Pulisic picking the ball up from Abraham before darting into the box, but he pulled his left-footed strike inches wide of the far post.

Lille’s Mike Maignan denied Chelsea the opener in the 16th minute with a fine save. N'Golo Kante beat everyone with a cross from the right which found its way to Emerson on the edge of the area. His low, powerful drive was well kept out by the Frenchman.

Kante himself went close just a minute later. His first effort was blocked but his follow up was volleyed just wide of the post.

But in the 18th minute, Lampard’s men took the lead with a lovely team goal. Kante chested down to Pulisic, before the American played Willian down the right and his cross gave Abraham the simplest of finishes to make it 1-0.

Chelsea continued to control the match and Azpilicueta made it 2-0 with 10 minutes of the first half remaining. The captain was given way too much time and space at the near post to head home Emerson’s corner.

Azpilicueta makes it 2-0 (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Azpilicueta makes it 2-0 (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

The Blues came flying out after the restart and should really have made it 3-0 but for Maignan, with Pulisic and Willian both forcing the 24-year-old into saves.

Willian almost made up for his miss a few moments later with a free-kick that he looped over the wall and was heading into the bottom corner, but Maignan denied him again.

Maignan, who made a number of saves to keep Chelsea at bay, was replaced by Leo Jardim with 20 minutes to go and the substitute keeper was quickly in action, getting down low to his left to deny Mateo Kovacic's curling effort.

Remy made Chelsea pay for all those missed opportunities in the 78th minute as he pulled one back for Lille.

Jonathan Bamba pulled the ball back from the left and the former Chelsea man fired in off the underside of the bar.

Two minutes later and Yusuf Yazici fired a shot just wide. Tension was building inside Stamford Bridge.

Michy Batshuayi had chances to give Chelsea a two-goal cushion once again but his first effort was blocked as he turned into trouble before firing a yard over.

Remy had the chance to knock the hosts out of the competition in the second minute of injury time, but side-footed straight at Kepa - despite having team-mates in space awaiting a pass - as the home side breathed a sigh of relief.

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