Chelsea put one foot in the quarter finals of the Champions League on Tuesday night as they beat Lille 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of their round of 16 tie.
Goals in each half from Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic were enough to secure the win against the reigning French champions, with the second leg set to be played in three weeks time.
Thomas Tuchel sparked controversy before the game when he dropped the out-of-sorts Romelu Lukaku to the bench, but it was a decision that was ultimately vindicated.
But what did the national media make of the victory?
“Chelsea had few alarms against a spirited Lille side, with their composed and professional performance summed up by the quality shown by veteran defender Thiago Silva and outstanding midfield man Kante.
“There was no better illustration of what Kante brings to Chelsea than the surging run and perfect pass to Pulisic, that allowed the forward to lift a finish over the onrushing Lille keeper Leo Jardim for a second goal that may yet prove decisive in pursuit of a place in the last eight.
“Tuchel will be concerned Kante’s midfield partner Kovacic failed to shake off a knock he sustained in the first half – and Ziyech limped off too.
“But there was plenty to be satisfied about as Chelsea look to retain the crown they won against Manchester City in Porto last June.”
“Looking at the positives from Thomas Tuchel’s big selection call, at least Romelu Lukaku has a better understanding of how Chelsea aspire to play now.
“This was a flexible and smart performance from the European champions, who functioned perfectly well with their £97.5m conundrum watching from the bench for the entire 90 minutes, and on this evidence Lukaku could be forgiven for wondering if his new diminished role is here to stay.
“After all there is little reason for Tuchel to bring the Belgian back when Chelsea meet Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday.
“It could well be further humiliation for Lukaku after this comfortable win against Lille.”
“Sitting on the bench, tracksuit hood shrouding and obscuring much of his face, Romelu Lukaku appeared a picture of gloom. Deep down, he must know he has blown it.
“Not his Chelsea career, because there is still time to change that narrative, but his opportunity. This would have been a good game in which to play upfront for Chelsea. Lille aren’t up to much, not really.
“It can only get harder from here, even the return leg. So Lukaku made a career error, by ending up outside Chelsea’s starting XI for a comparatively untaxing game. He didn’t play a minute, in the end.
“Yet what else could Thomas Tuchel do? His striker had seven touches, including first-half kick-off, against Crystal Palace on Saturday. That demands a reaction, something drastic; he couldn’t just let it pass.”
“Chelsea seized control of their Champions League last-16 tie with Lille as goals from Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic secured a 2-0 win in the first leg at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
“Havertz had already missed two good chances when he rose to meet Hakim Ziyech’s corner unmarked to put Chelsea in front after eight minutes, and while Lille impressed throughout this opening leg, it was the home side who would extend their advantage when Pulisic ran onto N’Golo Kante’s pass to beat Leo Jardim (63).
“Romelu Lukaku, who produced just seven touches during the full 90 minutes of Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday in the Premier League, was an unused substitute as Havertz bristled with confidence in the false nine role.
“Thomas Tuchel watched on animated but with his decisions vindicated as the Champions League holders – and newly crowned club world champions – defended resolutely to preserve another clean sheet, but the second-half withdrawals of Mateo Kovacic and Ziyech through injuries placed a slight dampener on an otherwise routine night.”