'Amazing' Chelsea reach Champions League last 16 with Juventus rout
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by Steven Griffiths
London - Thomas Tuchel hailed "amazing" Chelsea as the Champions League holders booked their place in the last 16 with an imperious 4-0 rout of Juventus on Tuesday.
Tuchel's side took the lead when Antonio Rudiger's handball went unpunished in the build-up to Trevoh Chalobah's first-half opener at Stamford Bridge.
Juventus never recovered from that controversial blow as Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner struck after half-time to send Chelsea to the top of Group H.
Chelsea are above Juventus on head-to-head goal difference and will guarantee a first-place finish if they win at Zenit Saint Petersburg in their last group fixture on December 8.
It was another commanding display from Chelsea, who are unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions since losing 1-0 at Juventus in September.
"It was a very good performance. We wanted to stay patient, but also did not want to fall asleep so it was a challenge to have both things," Tuchel said.
"We did really well, it is so tough to score goals against Juventus and we created so much. Full credit for an amazing performance and a fantastic result."
James, one of three scorers on the night to graduate from Chelsea's youth academy, was especially dynamic at right wing-back as the 21-year-old matures into a world-class talent.
Tuchel's evening was not completely problem free as both N'Golo Kante and Ben Chilwell were forced off, with the latter's knee injury looking especially concerning for the Premier League leaders.
"Ben was in a lot of pain, not so bad now. He will have some examinations tomorrow. We hope for the best. The same with N'Golo," Tuchel said.
Lacklustre Juventus had already qualified for the last 16, but the defeat puts their hopes of finishing top of the group in severe jeopardy.
Chelsea's star striker Romelu Lukaku was back on the bench after his lengthy absence with an ankle injury.
But Lukaku would not be needed as Tuchel's men tore Juventus apart.
Juventus striker Alvaro Morata was on familiar ground against his old club, but the Spaniard did not receive a warm welcome.
He was repeatedly booed and subjected to chants of "Chelsea reject" after a disappointing spell with the Blues that ended in 2020.
That hostility was not reserved to the stands as Chelsea pressed Juventus relentlessly, dominating possession in a match played almost exclusively in the Italians' half.
Chalobah ensured Chelsea's pressure did not go unrewarded in the 25th minute.
Hakim Ziyech's corner reached Rudiger and he bundled it towards Chalobah, who fired into the roof of the net from close range for his third goal this season.
Juventus appealed furiously for handball against Rudiger and although it did strike the defender's arm, the goal was allowed to stand as he did not make a deliberate movement towards the ball.
It was Chalobah's first Champions League goal in his maiden start in the tournament, extending a breakthrough season for the 22-year-old.
Chelsea's lead was preserved by a brilliant goal-line clearance from Thiago Silva moments later as the Brazilian raced back to hook the ball to safety after Morata lobbed Blues keeper Edouard Mendy.
That was a rare malfunction in the Chelsea machine and normal service was resumed in the 56th minute.
Chilwell's cross was glanced into James' path at the far post and he smashed a ferocious shot into the far corner from an acute angle.
Chelsea were rampant and Hudson-Odoi put the result beyond doubt two minutes later.
Gliding through the ramshackle Juventus defence after a blur of quick passes, Ruben Loftus-Cheek deftly found Hudson-Odoi and his clinical finish sent Tuchel dancing onto the pitch in a fist-pumping jig of delight.
The sight of Chilwell being helped off the pitch after a challenge from Adrien Rabiot took some of the shine off Chelsea's impressive performance.
But there was still time for Werner to tap in with virtually the last kick after James' sublime pass picked out Ziyech for the cross.