Mason Mount’s penalty was saved by the outstretched arm of Hugo Lloris which signalled Spurs’ passage to the next round and, despite having taken the lead in the game, Chelsea’s elimination.
It was a big night for both side’s starting left-backs; Ben Chilwell made his full Chelsea debut, while Sergio Reguilon – a player the Blues had been linked with this summer – made his first appearance for Jose Mourinho’s side.
While Chilwell linked up well on the left-hand side for much of the game, it was Reguilon whose actions defined the first half. Indecision in the Spurs half led to the Spaniard forfeiting possession, leading to a Chelsea break and a first goal for Timo Werner.
Reguilon was first dispossessed, then slid in on Cesar Azpilicueta as he tried to recover the ball, before his countrymate played a precise ball across to Werner waiting gleefully in the middle.
At that point, Chelsea fans must have been thinking they had done a number on Spurs in the transfer market once again by signing Chilwell over Reguilon . But the 23-year-old ex-Real Madrid man rallied, showing exactly why the club were interested and just how he helped Sevilla to Europa League success.
Chelsea had been in dire need of a solution to their left-back problem, and Lampard has fixed that issue with Chilwell. Reguilon was another option and he showed grit and fighting spirit to turn the tide on what was threatening to be a debut to forget.
His running down the left posed problems for Chelsea, and it was a recovery run in the latter stages of the first half which will have made Blues fans sit up and take note. While bursting through the middle, Reguilon raced after Callum Hudson-Odoi, who had gained more than a small number of yards on Spurs’ retreating defence.
A full-blooded tackle followed, something which has become a hallmark of Reguilon’s game, and Spurs regained control.
He is a no-nonsense defender, but not in the old-style ‘kick-and-rush’ sense. Reguilon is much more adept with the ball at his feet and at supporting attacks, which he showed in providing the equaliser for Erik Lamela.
According to WhoScored, Reguilon completed three of his four dribbles, stung the palms of Edouard Mendy with a rasping shot and attempted more crosses than any other player on the pitch.
With Reece James typically found on one side of Chelsea’s defence, Reguilon’s company on the opposite flank would have been a good fit, had they opted for the Spaniard.
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Needless to say, hindsight is a wonderful thing and never more so than in football. Had Chelsea not undergone the facelift they have committed to this summer, and surgery to the left-hand side had been postponed until next year, then supporters would rightfully be rueing the missed opportunity to secure the Spanish full-back.
Chilwell’s place in the team, usurping the unreliable Marcos Alonso and inconsistent Emerson Palmieri, means that Chelsea no longer need to worry about an imbalance in their defensive personnel.
Signing Reguilon would have been a smart move, but so was the acquisition of Chilwell, even if the Blues were forced to pay a premium.