Chelsea became one of the first names in the hat for the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals on Tuesday with U.S. men’s national team star Christian Pulisic making his return to action.
Pulisic played the final seven minutes for Graham Potter’s squad as Chelsea eliminated Borussia Dortmund 2-1 on aggregate in Round of 16 play. Fellow USMNT teammate Gio Reyna also featured in the showdown, playing 85 minutes off the bench following an early first-half injury to Julian Brandt.
Reyna replaced Brandt five minutes into the match at Stamford Bridge, being awarded with his first lengthy run of minutes in recent time.
Raheem Sterling’s opening goal came for Chelsea in the 43rd minute, giving the Blues a lifeline with plenty of time to play. Kai Havertz would spring Chelsea in front on aggregate, stepping up from the penalty spot and scoring in the 53rd minute.
Despite Havertz missing his first attempt from the spot, referee Danny Makkelie ruled for a re-kick after Borussia Dortmund players crept into the 18-yard box too early. Havertz sent Alexander Meyer the wrong way, celebrating his first goal since January 15 in all competitions.
Pulisic came on for Chelsea as a late substitute, helping the Blues grind out the victory. Reyna created the most chances (4), completed 89% of the passes, and won eight of 12 duels, delivering a strong performance despite Dortmund’s European exit.
Both teams will resume their league schedules on Saturday with Borussia Dortmund visiting rivals Schalke and Chelsea taking a trip to Leicester City.
Couple of times if Pulisic was more match fit he may have come away with a goal at the end of this game.
Reyna played well.
Don’t like to see anyone get injured by Brandt didn’t feel bad taking Gio’s minutes when Gio got hurt.
Julian Brandt had been Dortmund’s best player at least since the winter break. He’ll be a big loss.
This is GiGi’s chance to show his true perceived worth.
Losing Brandt pretty much kills their chances of keeping up with Bayern.
Unless GiGi can step up and cover the loss.