Kante, Chilwell injuries take shine off Chelsea's win

Juventus' Matthijs de Ligt challenges Chelsea's N'Golo Kante in their Champions League match at Stamford Bridge, London on November 23, 2021
Juventus' Matthijs de Ligt challenges Chelsea's N'Golo Kante in their Champions League match at Stamford Bridge, London on November 23, 2021
Image: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he was worried by injuries to midfielder N'Golo Kante and full back Ben Chilwell during their 4-0 Champions League win over Juventus.

Chelsea secured their place in the last 16 but Kante limped off in the first half while Chilwell suffered an apparent knee injury in the second period and was helped off the field.

“It worries me because (Chilwell) was in such a fantastic moment, like Reece (James) on the other side. They were in the best shape they could possibly be, so strong and so full of confidence and with such a lot of quality,” Tuchel said.

"'Chilly' has a sharp pain in the knee and he was in a lot of pain.”

Tuchel said the defender would have an examination on Wednesday.

“It's the same with N'Golo. He twisted his knee a little bit but hopefully it's not too bad,” he added.

“These were the only two sad things because N'Golo was again fantastic until the moment when he went off ... Hopefully it's not too bad.”

Tuchel's players executed the German coach's gameplan to perfection against the Italians, seizing control of Group H with one round of fixtures left before the knockout stage.

From kickoff until the final whistle, the Blues smothered Juve with a pressing game that penned them into their own half for much of a match which could have seen a bigger margin of victory but for inspired goalkeeping by Wojciech Szczesny.

“It was a very strong performance, an outstanding result,” Tuchel told reporters. “To score so many goals against a team who defend so well is a fantastic result for us. We will keep the feet on the ground but it was a very strong match.”

Asked if he felt Chelsea were on course to successfully defend the title they won in May, four months after Tuchel took over an erratic Chelsea side that sat mid-table in the Premier League, the German added: “We need to do it step-by-step.”

A first-half goal by Trevoh Chalobah and two strikes shortly before the hour mark from Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi — all three players from Chelsea's academy — smashed the little resistance Juventus could muster.

All the more remarkable is that Chelsea stormed into their 3-0 lead with their two main strikers, Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner, on the bench as they returned from injury, though the German came on to round off Chelsea's night with the final goal.

At the back, the Premier League leaders were just as impressive, led by imperious Brazilian Thiago Silva who ensured another of Tuchel's trademark defensive shutouts with a spectacular hook off the line to deny Alvaro Morata at 1-0.

The Blues have now kept 31 clean sheets in Tuchel's first 50 games in charge, more than any other side in Europe's big-five leagues over the same period.

Chelsea, top of the Premier League with 29 points from 12 games, host eighth-placed Manchester United on Sunday. — Reuters

 

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