Last night in Porto, Thomas Tuchel’s side produced a performance fitting of the Champions League final. Heart, desire, grit, determination, quality. It was all there and so much more.
The margin of victory was narrow – Kai Havertz’s first-half goal the difference against Pep Guardiola’s Man City. Yet there is no doubt the Blues deserved to take the big-eared trophy home to London.
“We knew that we needed a top-level performance and we needed a strong bond today to overcome this match and to have a chance to win this match,” Tuchel said after the victory in Portugal.”
“This is what we did. I’m almost speechless. I’m very, very happy to share this moment with this team, staff, and support [we get] every day in Cobham. It’s for them, for our team manager who is at home, it’s for my parents, my family, my kids.”
Chelsea had to defend right to the bitter end against City. In total 97 minutes were played at the Estadio do Dragao, in the dying moments of which Riyad Mahrez almost struck an equaliser for Guardiola’s side.
Yet when the full-time whistle was blown, countless Chelsea players were overwhelmed by emotion. Some crumpled to the turf, exhausted by joyous. Others sprinted around the pitch, revelling in the sheer emotion transmitted from the crowd.
Tuchel, meanwhile, spent a few seconds in conversation with Guardiola after the two had shared an embrace as they walked onto the pitch.
That was only the start of Chelsea’s celebrations. They went long into the night in front of the club’s supporters and here at the things we spotted from them.
Edouard Mendy’s deserved tears
There almost certainly were countless Chelsea fans across the world who broke down into tears straight after the full-time whistle was blown. And they were joined by Mendy.
The Senegal international has been on an extraordinary journey over the last six years. In 2015, he was unemployed and looking for a job after being released by Cherbourg. He is now a Champions League winner.
So those were tears of happiness, of perseverance, of never giving up on a dream. Congratulations, Edou.
Mason Mount channels Didier Drogba
One of the iconic celebrations from Chelsea’s Champions League win of 2012 came from the clutch player of that night: Didier Drogba.
Having scored the equaliser in normal and then dispatched the winning penalty in the shootout against Bayern Munich, the Ivorian finally got his hands on the biggest prize in European football.
Drogba made sure he enjoyed it and spent several minutes on the pitch at the Allianz Stadium driving the Champions League trophy in all different directions.
And last night, that celebration was repeated by one of Chelsea’s own: Mason Mount.
N’Golo Kante ever the humble gentleman
During the medal presentation, it’s become customary for players to give the Champions League trophy a quick kiss before the club captain raises it aloft. That was the case last night at the Dragao.
One by one, as Chelsea’s players walked past the trophy to the podium, they leaned in and give it a quick peck. But then it came to N’Golo Kante.
The Frenchman is one of the most humble players around and that’s perhaps why there was no kiss from Kante. Instead, there was a little pat with both arms before he moved on.
Famously, when France won the World Cup in 2018, Kante was too modest to ask his teammates lift the trophy.
Fortunately, Cesar Azpilicueta ensured the 30-year-old didn’t have to wait too long this time around, handing the trophy over to the midfielder mere moments after he had lifted it.
Antonio Rudiger shows his strength
Like the rest of his Chelsea teammates, Rudiger was faultless against City. He has been spectacular since the appointment of Tuchel and has made the role on the left side of the defence his own.
Rudiger has a good relationship with Tuchel and that was evident during the celebrations as when the Chelsea head coach when to congratulate the 28-year-old, he was lifted off his feet and into the air.
The huge smile on Tuchel’s face suggested he had no problem with the unorthodox huge from the Blues’ No.2.
Made in Cobham
Chelsea took 25 players out to Porto for the Champions League final. Seven of those had spent time in the club’s academy.
Some more than others admittedly, with the likes of Billy Gilmour and Andreas Christensen arriving in their late teens, but they have all made the journey from youth team, to first team, to Champions League winner.
So it was fitting that the seven were pictured together. So from left to right in the photo below: Tino Anjorin, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Billy Gilmour and Andreas Christensen.
Kurt Zouma takes N’Golo Kante for a ride
The French defender was one of the first players onto the pitch after the full-time whistle was blown and he headed straight for Kante.
Once there, Zouma hoisted the diminutive midfielder up and almost onto his shoulder before quickly putting his compatriot on solid ground.
Thiago Silva and Thomas Tuchel avenge 2020 defeat
In last year’s final, there was heartbreak for Tuchel and Silva as, then at Paris Saint-Germain, there were beaten by Bayern Munich. This time around things were different.
Silva may have been forced off in the opening period with an apparent groin injury but that didn’t stop him from joining in the celebrations and giving Tuchel a huge hug on the pitch.
“It’s the most important moment of my career,” the Brazilian told RMC Sport after the game.