In pictures: Chelsea v Dortmund
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Chelsea’s matchwinner against Borussia Dortmund, Kai Havertz, has issued a passionate defence of boss Graham Potter. The under-fire former Brighton man saw some of the pressure lift off of his shoulders as the Blues advanced to the Champions League quarter-finals with a 2-0 win over the German side.
Havertz scored the crucial goal in the tie after Dortmund held a 1-0 advantage from the first leg, slotting his penalty past Alexander Mayer as he was allowed to re-take the spot-kick after missing his first attempt due to visiting players encroaching in the penalty area. Raheem Sterling got the other goal as Potter has come through a crucial two-game spell with two victories and clean sheets in both games.
The win will have given Potter some breathing room as pressure had begun to mount on the 47-year-old, but his players appear to be firmly on his side as Havertz revealed after Tuesday’s victory when he took a dig at those in the media criticising the head coach. “We know the pressure is on him. In the media I can’t believe how many people talk about him,” Havertz told beIN SPORTS.
“We have hundreds of coaches in England who think they know better than him. We know in the changing room he’s a big personality, big manager, he helps us all a lot. Me included. We are 100 per cent behind him. Even though the people may not see it, now today everybody saw that he is a big manager.”
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Potter has been criticised for not showing his personality and making too many changes to the Chelsea time in his brief tenure in charge, but made just the two on Tuesday as Marc Cucurella came in for the ineligible Benoit Badiashile while Reece James returned in place of Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The boss wore his heart on his sleeve on the touchline during a two-game spell that will have silenced many of his critics.
Potter has stood by Havertz as his centre-forward when there were calls to reinstate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, despite the German scoring just one goal in 2023 prior to the victory over Dortmund. The 23-year-old’s talents were on display as he was able to drop deep and connect play, which allowed the likes of Sterling and Joao Felix to get in behind and create havoc in the visiting defence.
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Havertz showed his mental strength by stepping up to take a second penalty after missing his first attempt, but the forward has the backing of the squad as before the game Felix knew that Havertz was going to break his duck against Dortmund.
“Kai is an amazing player, everyone knows who he is and what he has done for the club,” said Felix in the pre-match press conference.
“In football, sometimes you are on a streak to score every game and then every time you don’t score, but you just have to keep working. Kai is a really good guy, he never stops working, he is always searching to be better and he will score.”
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