N’Golo Kante and Timo Werner have revealed what they felt was the key to victory over Real Madrid and what it means to reach the Champions League final with Chelsea.
Werner got the scoring underway with the opening goal at Stamford Bridge as we finished the job from the first leg, winning 2-0 on the night to complete a 3-1 aggregate victory and tee up an all-English final against Manchester City in Istanbul.
Kante stood out across both matches against the Spaniards, being named as UEFA’s Man of the Match in each leg, and insists our success was purely down to the level of performance
‘I’m delighted for this performance,’ said N’Golo. ‘I think we played two good games and we qualified because of that and I am happy to play my part for the team.
‘We could have scored the second goal earlier because we created many chances. It was late in the game, but in the end we have the result that we wanted and we’re happy to go through.
‘Getting to the final is the result of a lot of fighting this season and I hope we can finish well. We know Man City, they know us, it will be a special game for both teams and we hope it is going to be great for us.’
While the modest Frenchman was as reluctant as ever to discuss his own role in the victory over Real Madrid, his team-mate Werner had no such problems pointing out just how important Kante is to the team.
‘N’Golo is always really important for us,’ added the German. ‘He’s a beast, to win the ball and fight and run all over the place. The manager tells us every time he is playing that we play with two players.
‘He’s a really good guy, plays so good, and also last night how he ran next to me and created a chance and also when he ran with the ball, gave a pass to Christian at the second goal. He’s so important to us and I’m very glad we have him in our squad.’
The striker was also keen to give the credit for his goal to his team-mates Kante and Kai Havertz, even if he admits it wasn’t easy holding his nerve as the rebound from the latter’s shot slowly fell for him to head in.
‘I had to wait a long time with the ball coming down for my goal, it took hours until the ball came down! But I think you saw also before the goal, how we played, to get Kai free in this position, an easy double-pass for me with N'Golo and then he played a very good ball to Kai. He hit the bar and then it was an easy goal for me.’
However, it wasn’t until Mason Mount scored our second late on that we made the result safe, causing an outpouring of emotion that was only matched by the joy at the final whistle and the satisfaction at our performance.
‘There was a lot of celebration, the last 10 minutes I had no voice because I was screaming a lot! It means a lot, I think it’s the dream of every young kid,’ continued Werner. ‘When I was 10 or 11 I watched every semi-final on the TV and it was a big dream to play in a semi-final and then to reach the final, and now it’s reality and it’s an incredible feeling.
‘Our team is incredible, what we did last night. We did not have so much of the ball like normal, but how we controlled the game, how we controlled the rhythm, was unbelievable against a team with world-class players in every position.
‘We are young but we are not stupid or make easy mistakes. We knew exactly when we had to keep pushing, when we had to play the ball up front fast, and also when to be calm, to keep the ball in our own half and play out.
‘Also the chances we created, most of them at the beginning of the second half, were very good. Maybe the only thing you can say against us was that we could have decided the game earlier in the second half, but in the end it’s not easy to play against Real Madrid and we did very well, it was a really deserved win for us.’
Werner also feels head coach Thomas Tuchel deserves plenty of credit for what we have achieved since his arrival in January, with that turnaround in fortunes as well as the chance for the striker and our other new signings to silence some of their early critics adding further satisfaction, even if he knows there is still plenty left to do between now and the end of the season.
‘When we started under the new manager we were 10th in the league,' he added. 'We had a lot of challenges but now we’ve reached the FA Cup final and the Champions League final. We are on the road to the top four, we can win the Champions League, we can win the FA Cup.
‘We are now in two finals, we have to do a lot of work in the Premier League as well, and we want to win those two finals. We have very strong opponents in both games and we will give everything to win them, and then people can decide if it was a difficult or bad season for us.’