Chelsea rose to the occasion and delivered our best performance of the season to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals, goals in each half from Raheem Sterling and Kai Havertz enough to secure another famous European comeback victory at the Bridge.
The Blues were outstanding from minute one and delivered a statement win under Graham Potter, who saw his side score two goals for the first time in 2023 when we needed them most.
They arrived either side of half-time. Sterling got the first with a thumping finish, and it was no less than we deserved having already gone close on several occasions, most notably when Havertz hit the inside of the post.
The German eventually converted a dramatic, twice-taken penalty, awarded for handball after a lengthy VAR check in the early exchanges of the second period. Aside from a bad Jude Bellingham miss, the Blues were resolute in defence and restricted the German side, on a 10-game winning streak remember, to very little.
As if anyone needed reminding, Chelsea remain a force to be reckoned with on the big stage and no team will relish drawing us in the quarter-finals when the draw is made on 17 March.
'Champions of Europe, we've done it before!' as the ecstatic Blues supporters sang at full-time!
Reece James returned as one of two changes Potter made to the team that started Saturday’s win against Leeds, James having missed that one with a tight hamstring.
Elsewhere, Marc Cucurella came in for Benoit Badiashile, who was ineligible, slotting in at left centre-back and enjoying his best game in a Chelsea shirt.
Enzo partnered Mateo Kovacic in midfield, and Potter kept faith with the front three of Havertz, Joao Felix and Sterling that had looked dangerous on Saturday.
For Dortmund, keeper Gregor Kobel wasn’t fit enough to start, while first-leg goalscorer Karim Adeyemi missed out altogether through injury.
At it from the off
Kick-off was delayed 10 minutes due to the late arrival of the Dortmund team bus, but if anything that just ramped up the intensity when play did get underway inside a fizzing Stamford Bridge.
The fast start – at both ends - was punctuated by an injury to Julian Brandt, who had to be withdrawn. On came Gio Reyna with five minutes on the clock.
Cucurella had already been first to the ball once when his determination helped create the game’s opening opportunity. The Spaniard stole possession on halfway and suddenly Joao Felix was squaring Niklas Sule up, gliding past him before being thwarted by the smothering Alexander Mayer. Kalidou Koulibaly headed the resulting corner wide.
A second good chance arrived inside 10 minutes. This time Joao Felix turned creator, lofting a pass over Dortmund’s high defence and through to Havertz, who chested the ball into his path before firing into the side-netting under pressure from Emre Can.
By the quarter-hour mark our visitors had established a foothold in the contest, and a foul by Wesley Fofana gave them a free-kick in a dangerous area. Marco Reus whipped his strike towards the top left-hand corner and only a superb one-handed Kepa save prevented the German side going 2-0 up on aggregate.
Kovacic had to be careful not to trip Reyna up in the box after he got the wrong side, and by now it was Dortmund enjoying most of the possession and the territory. The Blues looked happy to play on the break.
So close to an opener
It looked like the strategy had paid off on 27 minutes. A vicious James cross was only cleared as far as Havertz, just inside the box. His first-time strike beat Mayer, hit the inside of one post and spun agonisingly wide of the other.
The home support cranked the volume up. A sustained spell of Chelsea possession, our best yet, led to another dangerous corner. Then Sterling was freed by Joao Felix, and although Meyer kept his shot out Havertz superbly curled home the rebound. The offside flag was raised, though, Sterling a yard beyond the last man from the initial pass.
Our heads were in our hands again barely a minute later. Chilwell’s set-piece delivery was a delicious one and found Koulibaly, who couldn’t sort his feet again to volley into the empty net. Instead, the ball rolled backwards to Joao Felix, who fired straight at Meyer.
We kept our foot on the gas. Cucurella won another brave header allowing Havertz to tee up Chilwell. Bursting from left wing-back, he skewed well wide.
Breakthrough leads to bedlam!
There was no doubt our efforts had deserved a goal, giving extra cause for both satisfaction and relief when one arrived two minutes before the break.
Havertz, a bustling presence up front all half, and then captain Kovacic showcased sheer bloody-mindedness to engineer some space for Chilwell to cross. He fizzed it in and found Sterling, who miskicked, beat Reus in the tackle and smashed the ball high past Meyer, all in the blink of an eye. The Bridge erupted! All square on aggregate.
That was how it stayed until half-time. The drama showed no sign of relenting when play restarted!
We worked the play nicely left to Chilwell, whose attempted cross was blocked by the hand of Marius Wolf. The ref waved play on and Kovacic’s shot was deflected into Meyer’s arms. Play continued for a good while but at the next stoppage, it was clear the handball was being checked.
Referee Danny Makkelie was advised to check the pitchside monitor in front of the West Lower, and his decision was penalty.
If you at first you don't succeed...
Havertz, announced as our new spot-kick taker by Potter in the pre-match press conference, stepped up and hit the inside of the right-hand post. The ball rebounded back into play and was cleared by Salih Ozcan, who was clearly standing inside the D when the kick was taken.
Encroachment meant a retake! Havertz went the same way, as did Meyer, and this time the ball was a few more inches to the left, nestling in the bottom and sparking pandemonium in the Matthew Harding Stand.
Dortmund had barely been in our defensive third since the break, but just before the hour they signalled their intent, knowing they needed at least one goal to keep the tie alive. A loose ball in the box fell to the otherwise quiet Bellingham six yards, and he volleyed a very presentable chance wide.
Midway through the half Potter replaced Joao Felix with Conor Gallagher, adding extra energy to the side that had played with such impressive intensity from the off.
Before that, Kepa had needed to be at his best to parry Wolf’s drive as a swarm of yellow shirts entered our box.
On 75 minutes, Gallagher had the ball in the net, but not for the first time tonight Sterling was a whisker offside latching on to a through pass.
Digging deep to cross the line
Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek for Sterling and Kovacic were our next subs as we entered the final 10 minutes with everything still to play for. Chelsea were scrapping hard for every 50-50 tackle, defending for our lives and offering a threat on the break when we could.
Those threats were genuine, but didn’t materialise into another goal. Thankfully, it mattered not as we safely navigated over seven scrappy minutes of additional time to book our place in the last eight of Europe’s premier competition, the Blues revelling in the big occasion once more. We can now look forward to the draw a week on Friday!
We return to domestic action this Saturday afternoon when we travel to Leicester City, kick-off 3pm, hunting a third straight win.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Kepa; W.Fofana, Koulibaly, Cucurella; James, Enzo (Zakaria 87), Kovacic (c) (Pulisic 83), Chilwell; Sterling (Loftus-Cheek 83), Havertz, Joao Felix (Gallagher 6).
Unused subs Bergstrom, Bettinelli, Hall, Chalobah, Chukwuemeka, Mudryk, Ziyech
Scorers Sterling 43, Havertz (pen) 53
Booked Kepa 65, Enzo 77, Chilwell 90+2, Cucurella 90+6
Borussia Dortmund (4-2-3-1): Meyer; Wolf, Sule, Schlotterbeck, Guerreiro; Can; Brandt (Reyna 5), Bellingham, Ozcan (Bynoe-Gittens 64), Reus (c); Haller (Malen 77).
Unused subs Kobel, Unbehaun, Hummels, Meunier, Dahoud, Passlack, Rothe, Coulibaly, Modeste.
Booked Sule 41, Wolf 90+1, Bellingham 90+8
Referee Danny Makkelie from the Netherlands