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Chelsea knock out Lille, Villareal stun Juventus to enter Champions League quarter-finals
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Chelsea knock out Lille, Villareal stun Juventus to enter Champions League quarter-finals

/ Sport

Football

Issued on: 16/03/2022 – 23:57

Lille’s Dutch defender Sven Botman reacts during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match between Lille (LOSC) and Chelsea FC at the Pierre Mauroy Stadium in Villeneuve-d’Ascq, northern France, on March 16, 2022. © Franck Fife, AFP

Chelsea put their off-field troubles to one side to seal a place in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday as a Cesar Azpilicueta goal clinched a 2-1 win at Lille in the second leg of their last-16 tie. Meanwhile in Turin, Villarreal knocked out Juventus in a humiliating 3-0 match.

Reeling from the impact of UK government sanctions imposed on their Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, the London club appeared rattled as they fell behind in northern France to a first-half Burak Yilmaz penalty.

Lille had given themselves a chance of salvaging the tie following their 2-0 defeat in the first leg at Stamford Bridge last month, but Christian Pulisic equalised on the night in first-half stoppage time and captain Azpilicueta got the winner in the 71st minute.

The reigning Ligue 1 champions go out, and following Paris Saint-Germain’s stunning exit last week it means there will be no French club in Friday’s draw for the Champions League quarter-finals.

In contrast, defending European champions Chelsea make it three Premier League clubs in the hat as they join Liverpool and Manchester City in the last eight.

“It has not been a normal last few weeks but we have to do what is in our hands, which is train the best we can. Tonight it was a difficult game and of course we are happy to go through,” Azpilicueta told British broadcaster BT Sport.

“This group fights against everything, we know we have to do the best we can on the pitch, we stick together and hopefully end up having a very good season.”

Coach Thomas Tuchel had insisted there could be no excuses for his team despite the Blues being left in turmoil after Abramovich’s assets were frozen, with Chelsea only being allowed to continue operating by the British government under a special licence.

They have been banned from selling tickets and were told they could not spend more than £20,000 ($26,300) per match on travel costs, throwing their plans for this trip across the English Channel into some disarray.

Before kick-off on Wednesday it emerged that the Ricketts family, owners of Major League Baseball team the Chicago Cubs, were leading a consortium looking to buy the club while British athletics great Sebastian Coe announced his involvement in a rival bid.

Villareal knocks out Juventus

Meanwhile in Turin, Villarreal inflicted a humiliating 3-0 defeat on Juventus to go through to the quarter-finals 4-1 on aggregate.

Penalties from Gerard Moreno and Arnaut Danjuma and Pau Torres’s tap-in in the final quarter of an hour were enough for Unai Emery’s well-organised side to see off the Italians at the Allianz Stadium and make Friday’s last-eight draw.

Villarreal stunned Juve with three sucker punches after spending most of the match on the back foot, content to hold off the hosts’ attacks which got less potent as the match wore on.

An embarrassing loss was just Juve’s second since the end of November and punctures a dogged run of form which has put them back into the league title race at home.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side were loudly booed off by the home crowd who watched their team shrink from a promising start and bounce off a yellow wall before being bundled out of the competition.

Italy are now without a single representative in this season’s Champions League as it moves into its latter stages, as a cynical, clinical Villarreal beat a Serie A team at their own game.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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