Abraham, Azpilicueta fire Chelsea into knockout rounds of Champions League

Abraham, Azpilicueta fire Chelsea into knockout rounds of Champions League

Tammy Abraham tapped home a fine team goal as Chelsea saw off Lille 2-1 at Stamford Bridge to reach the Champions League’s last 16.

England hitman Abraham notched his 13th Chelsea goal in all competitions this term, with Cesar Azpilicueta heading in from Emerson’s corner.

Former Blues striker Loic Remy blasted in an impressive late strike but Chelsea rebuffed the Lille comeback to seal their place in the knockout stages.

Abraham applied the finishing touch to a crisp five-man move to light up a dank west London night, as Chelsea responded admirably to Frank Lampard’s pre-match challenge.

Frustrated boss Lampard had called on his faltering young stars to show tougher “personality” in the wake of Saturday’s 3-1 Premier League loss at Everton.

Chelsea entered Tuesday’s Lille clash with just one win in five matches, with Lampard facing the first tangible test of his Stamford Bridge managerial reign.

The Blues’ former England midfielder had pulled no punches in demanding more character from his developing squad.

And in free-scoring striker Abraham Lampard has just the type of personality player around whom he can build the Blues’ future.

Abraham himself appears quite happy to shoulder the burden of leading Chelsea’s charge under Lampard, openly embracing the number nine shirt at the age of 22.

Lampard will hope bigger and better European nights await his youthful charges, but considering Chelsea lost their opening Group H clash at home to Valencia he will be delighted just to make the knockout phase this term at all.

Chelsea eased into rhythm from the off, Christian Pulisic, Emerson and N’Golo Kante all going close before the hosts broke the deadlock.

The move of the match yielded the opener, as Chelsea turned a set move into an eye-catching team goal.

Lille defender Jeremy Pied insisted the visitors were not in London for a glorified training session, having been unable to qualify for the next phase of either the Champions or Europe League.

So instead it was Chelsea who turned Stamford Bridge into the training paddock, with Abraham tapping home to cap an inch-perfect move.

Mateo Kovacic dropped into the left back slot to angle a lofted ball to Kante, who had tiptoed up to the centre forward berth.

The Frenchman chested down straight into the path of the onrushing Pulisic, who drove infield from the left and fed Willian cutting in from the right.

The Brazil forward checked down the line, cut back a low ball to the near post – and Abraham did the rest with a smart finish.

The five-man move smacked of a plan often rehearsed in preparation but rarely executed so crisply in battle.

When captain Azpilicueta headed in Emerson’s corner just past the half hour, Chelsea were in total control and already eyeing the knockout stages.

The Blues bossed the second-half’s opening exchanges with no joy, and were left with a nervy end to the night when Remy lashed home late on.

The former Blues striker thumped home a fine finish to put Chelsea’s progression in jeopardy, and then even fluffed a great chance to dump the hosts out of the competition.

Chelsea held out though, for a morale-boosting and ultimately deserved win.