Porto Uncovered episode two: Digging deep to cross the line

Episode Two: The Dream | Porto Uncovered

The second part of Porto Uncovered, a new video series going behind the scenes of our Champions League glory last season, can be watched above. Hear the blow-by-blow thoughts of those engulfed in the action on the pitch during the final, and those watching in agonising despair from the stands and back home...

It is one of football’s quirks that you can spend weeks looking forward to a big game, but as it soon as it starts and things go your team’s way, you just want it to end.

That was very much the case for the lucky Chelsea fans inside the Estadio do Dragao in Porto, and the millions more Blues supporters watching around the world as the minutes ticked down in the 2021 Champions League final.

Indeed, as the second episode of Porto Uncovered (released today) showcases, everyone on the Chelsea bench had a similar feeling in the pit of their stomach, that collective yearn for a final whistle that never seemed so far away.

‘Five minutes, five minutes,’ hushes Timo Werner amid an agonising period of stoppage time.

For so much of our continental campaign last season, Chelsea were in control. Atletico Madrid, Porto and Real Madrid had all been comprehensively beaten over two legs in the knockout stages by the time we took on Premier League champions Manchester City in the tournament’s showpiece fixture.

There, the Blues again impressed, deservedly leading 1-0 at half-time. As Petr Cech notes in the first episode of Porto Uncovered, there were many contrasts between the 2012 triumph he was so heavily involved in and the one nine years later, but one feeling – indescribable tension – transcended the second halves of both finals.

In Munich it built up as Chelsea sat deeper and deeper, trying to cope with a barrage of Bayern attacks until Thomas Muller’s header appeared to condemn us to defeat.

Against Man City, the opposition clearly had fewer chances - ‘no clear ones’, as Pep Guardiola put it – but unlike in Bavaria we had a lead to protect, something to lose. Naturally, immense powers of concentration and defensive discipline were required to keep the freescoring Citizens from threatening Edou Mendy’s goal.

‘Against a team like this you have to suffer,’ said Toni Rudiger after the game. ‘You know that they will have the ball, you know that you will suffer and you have to be ready for it.

‘We all did well. From the front to the back, everybody defended properly. Christensen came on and he was straight in the game, Azpilicueta was a warrior, Reece was a warrior, Chilwell was a warrior. This is how we had to be and I’m proud.’

‘The key was to get tight and be aggressive,’ added Ben Chilwell. ‘I was getting tired as the game went on but when the Champions League is up for grabs, you don't really tire.'

The players suffered, and so did the fans. In the second half Man City had a fraction under 70 per cent of the possession. The trio of centre-backs who finished the game for Chelsea made a total of 11 clearances between them, compared to just seven by all 14 Man City players combined. We blocked four of City’s seven shots and registered nine interceptions, a number from threatening crosses.

As successful as our defensive operation was, and as much as supporters and substitutes willed the game’s conclusion, time did not go any quicker. Gasps and groans were audible when seven additional minutes were indicated at the end of the 90. And then Chelsea hearts stopped as Riyad Mahrez’s strike, in the seventh of those, flew towards Mendy’s top corner.

It fizzed just over. Mendy, Azpilicueta and Mason Mount sank to the floor. That was the moment. The nerves of extra-time we had endured in Moscow and Munich had been averted. After what felt like another hour, but was in fact barely 60 seconds, the final whistle did sound, and the celebrations could begin. Chelsea were the Champions of Europe again.

How much do you remember of our two victorious Champions League finals? Try our quiz below! 

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