N’Golo Kante delivers stellar Chelsea performance against Lille
N’Golo Kante was back to his best as Chelsea registered a 2-0 win over Lille in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16.
The Frenchman has had his fair share of niggles this campaign. He was far from convincing in the recent 1-0 Premier League win at Crystal Palace.
However, there were still no doubts over his place in the line-up, and he showed his class against the Ligue 1 holders with a terrific all-round display.
Kante was hugely instrumental in the knock-out phase of last season’s Champions League. He produced another man of the match showing last night.
The 30-year-old registered four tackles and two interceptions alongside two take-ons and two key passes. He made regular forward runs which eventually made a difference.
The European champions made it 2-0 after the hour mark through Christian Pulisic, but the goal was all about Kante’s sublime lung-bursting run to the edge of the box.
The £45 million star took several Lille players out of the game with his tireless run before putting the ball on the plate for Pulisic, who found the back of the net.
Kante struggled for consistency amid injuries during the first half of last season, but was back to his best form after manager Thomas Tuchel took charge of the club.
There has been a similar pattern with the World Cup winner this term. The Blues fans will be hoping that he can deliver similar stand-out displays in Europe.
The Blues have a solid 2-0 advantage for the return trip to Lille. They should be favourites to progress to the quarter-final with their improved defensive showing lately.
Their main focus for now will be the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool on Sunday. Tuchel has few injury concerns to deal with ahead of the Wembley showdown.
Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech picked up injuries in the space of few second-half minutes. Tuchel did not provide any clear update on the availability of the duo.
Chelsea will be aiming to win the Cup competition for the first time since 2015.
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