LONDON, March 18: Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 on Wednesday to reach the Champions League quarterfinals for the first time since 2014 as Hakim Ziyech and Emerson Palmieri were on target to give coach Thomas Tuchel’s rejuvenated team a 3-0 aggregate win.
Ziyech squeezed the ball under Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak in the 34th minute of the last-16 second leg as he connected with a cross from Timo Werner who had raced down the left after being fed by fellow German Kai Havertz.
The three players involved in the goal had come under pressure after falling short of expectations since they arrived as big-money signings at Stamford Bridge last summer.
Substitute Emerson made sure of the victory with a 94th-minute strike on the break for Chelsea’s second goal.
Atletico were left to rue referee Daniele Orsato’s decision not to give a penalty when, with the score at 0-0, Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta underhit a back pass and put his arm around Yannick Carrasco who went down in the box.
The leaders of Spain’s La Liga struggled to pierce Chelsea’s defence with the tireless N’Golo Kante providing extra protection from midfield.
Coach Diego Simeone hauled off Uruguay striker Luis Suarez in the 59th minute and replaced him with Angel Correa to little effect as he failed to repeat his feat of 2014 when he masterminded a Champions League semi-final win over the Blues.
The visitors finished the game with 10 men after Stefan Savic was shown a red card in the 82nd minute for elbowing Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger in the chest at a corner.
The win left Chelsea unbeaten in 13 games since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as coach in January. He has engineered a turnaround founded on a defence that has let in only two goals under the German, who led Paris St Germain to last year’s final.
“This is another top performance with a deserved win,” Tuchel told BT Sport although he conceded he had been a “bit frightened” by the penalty scare.
“They tried to press up very high in the first half but they opened up some spaces in the back of the midfield and we could exploit it and then scored a fantastic goal. It gave us a lot of confidence,” he said.
Simeone said Chelsea deserved the win. “The first game was more even but today they were superior to us. We tried to press them high and make it hard for them to play out from the back and we managed that occasionally,” the Argentine said.
“I won’t look for excuses and whether or not it was a penalty. The referee made his decision. They were better than us and when your opponent is better you have to congratulate them.”
Ruthless Bayern Munich complete job against Lazio to ease into Champions League last-eight
Holders Bayern Munich cruised through to the Champions League quarter-finals for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons after beating Lazio 2-1 at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday to secure a 6-2 aggregate victory.
Leading 4-1 from the first leg in Rome, Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring for Bayern from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute, his 39th goal of the season in all competitions, to virtually end Lazio’s hopes.
The German champions took their foot off the gas before substitute Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, having replaced Lewandowski, added the second goal in the 73rd minute. Marco Parolo headed a late consolation for Lazio.
Bayern joined fellow German side Borussia Dortmund in the last eight and Lazio’s exit means no Italian team will compete in the Champions League quarter-finals, with Juventus and Atalanta having also gone out at the last-16 stage.
“It was important for me that we won the game,” Bayern coach Hansi Flick said.
“Lazio defended well but I think the win was deserved. Our attack is so strong and we play a high-risk game. It’s important that we keep playing like this and defend from the front to put our opponents under pressure.”
Alexander Nuebel replaced the ill Manuel Neuer in goal for Bayern, but with Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi surprisingly leaving the club’s top scorer Ciro Immobile out, the stand-in keeper was rarely rested.
Although Lazio were facing a near impossible task – no side in European Cup history has progressed from a knockout tie after losing the first leg by three or more goals at home – Bayern named a strong starting side.
A clumsy challenge from Vedat Muriqi on Leon Goretzka gifted Bayern the penalty which Lewandowski converted, his fifth Champions League goal of the season, and the rest of match was a cruise for the Bundesliga leaders.
Lewandowski went within inches of his 40th of the season in the second half before being withdrawn and Choupo-Moting found the net two minutes after coming on, ensuring Bayern made it 19 games unbeaten in the Champions League.
Parolo did give Lazio something to take back to Italy in the 82nd minute when he headed home from Andreas Pereira’s free kick, but Bayern never looked in any danger of making a surprise exit.
“We did well, the boys were in the game then we conceded a goal from a penalty,” Inzaghi said. “We exit with honour after six matches unbeaten in the group.
“We were sorry for the first leg but I think we played a good match here.” (Reuters)