Chelsea beat Lille; Villarreal equal Juventus

Sports Desk, Feb 22 (EFE).- Chelsea posted a comfortable 2-0 victory over Lille on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League knockout stage clash, while Villarreal and Juventus drew 1-1 in a defensive duel.

As if to validate coach Thomas Tuchel’s decision to start him instead of Romelu Lukaku, Kai Havertz delivered his best performance since joining the Blues in 2020.

The German fired over the cross-bar in the 4th minute and was denied by Lille goalkeeper Leo Jardim in the 7th, but got his reward seconds later on the ensuing corner, heading in a cross from Hakim Ziyech to make it 1-0 for the hosts at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea cooled off after their initial burst and the visitors were the better side for stretches. Yet the London side went on to nail down the victory in the 63rd minute courtesy of Christian Pulisic, assisted by N’Golo Kante.

The two teams will meet again March 16 in Lille as Chelsea continue their defense of the Champions League title.

In Villarreal, Dusan Vlahovic needed just 34 seconds to stake Juve to a 1-0 lead, deftly taking a long pass over the top from Danilo and beating keeper Gero Rulli with a shot into the far corner.

The Serbian international, who recently joined the Bianconeri from Fiorentina, was making his Champions League debut. The post stopped Giovani Lo Celso from equalizing in the 13th minute in what would prove to be the closest either team would come to scoring for the rest of the first half.

The Europa League holders pulled level in the 66th minute with a goal by Dani Parejo, who slipped unnoticed into the area to meet a perfect cross from Etienne Capoue and power the ball past Wojciech Szczesny.

Vlahovic forced a save from Rulli in the 85th minute and the tie will be settled next month in Turin. EFE msg-ag/dr

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