Chelsea survived a spectacular late overhead kick from Mehdi Taremi to overcome Porto and confirm a place in the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in seven years.
Thomas Tuchel’s side went into this ‘home’ last-eight second leg – with both games being played in Seville during the current Covid-19 pandemic – protecting a two-goal lead they only briefly threatened to surrender in the dying seconds following Taremi’s brilliant finish.
Chelsea, who will now face either Liverpool or Real Madrid in the semi-final, played within themselves but it was enough to keep a disappointing Porto at bay, the Portuguese side rarely testing keeper Edouard Mendy with their surprisingly cautious approach, which they only cast aside when it was too late.
Mendy’s poor clearance almost offered Jesus Corona a first-half chance but he could not take advantage, while Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount had opportunities after the break.
Taremi’s goal was out of character with the rest of Porto’s performance and came too late to alter the inevitable course of this quarter-final.
Chelsea manager Tuchel suggested he might have preferred to keep N’Golo Kante on the bench after a recent hamstring problem, until an injury to fellow midfielder Mateo Kovacic forced his hand.
And he was rewarded with yet another masterclass from the France international, who showed supreme positional sense, tireless work-rate and that uncanny ability to spot any rare danger before prompting attacks of his own.
Kante has been an outstanding figure since Tuchel succeeded Frank Lampard and it is no surprise the German has come to count on him so readily, this understated but world-class performer completing the full 90 minutes despite doubts over his match fitness.
Chelsea adopted an understandably conservative approach, taking no chances and refusing to offer Porto any route back into this tie. Porto were largely lacklustre and rarely showed any of the sparkle that saw them shock Italian giants Juventus in the previous round.
They may not have offered any serious threat of their own, although Mount was denied by superb defending from Porto defender Wilson Manafa.
In reality, however, there was no need whatsoever for Chelsea to take unnecessary risks that may have allowed Porto back in. This was about game management and, despite that last-ditch scare, for Chelsea it was a job very well done.