CAPTAIN AMERICA rode to the rescue and sent a message to the folks back home with a flash of his right foot.
Christian Pulisic scored the goal which saw off the fightback from the French champions and handed Chelsea a relatively quiet night on the pitch at least.
And as the bidding war to buy the club hots up across the Pond there could be no better advert than seeing a homespun hero steal the show.
Whether by coincidence or not, Pulisic was back in the starting line-up after two games out on the day a fourth interested party from the US signalled intent to buy the club.
Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts declared himself in the race for the £3billion-rated club just hours before kick-off, joining Woody Johnson, Oaktree Capital and Todd Boehly.
The queue of customers stretches from New England to New Orleans. And how those four will have drooled at seeing one of their own show what can be done when the Yanks are given a chance.
Pulisic is the poster boy of stars and stripes soccer. He is the skipper of the national team yet drifts in and out at Chelsea and admits it hurts.
The clinical finish tonight which avoided an uncomfortable evening for his team-mates will only serve to stir up interest across stateside.
Pulisic was one of five changes to the team from Sunday’s late win against Newcastle in a bid to inject fresh legs into the team.
As is becoming customary with Chelsea, it is impossible to go even a few minutes without some form of drama.
So it was that defender Andreas Christensen collapsed just after half an hour with a pulled hamstring and was forced off.
His replacement Tevoh Chalobah’s first input was to pull down Lille’s highly-rated forward Jonathan David on the edge of the box, concede a dangerous free-kick and get himself booked.
From that Chelsea’s normally reliable keeper Edouard Mendy made a mess of dealing with the cross and in the ensuing goalmouth scramble Jorginho handled the ball.
It was a full four minutes later though that Italian ref Davide Massa was able to consult VAR and award a penalty.
Burak Yilmaz calmly pumped the ball in to make it 2-1 on aggregate and cut Chelsea’s aggregate lead to one goal with more than fifty minutes to play in a hostile atmosphere in industrial north-eastern France.
But they should make the most of it as current Government restrictions mean that after Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough, Chelsea can’t sell any more tickets to games so a full house could soon become a thing of the past for these players.
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Jorginho was left shaking his head in despair as Lille pulled a goal back. Seven minutes later he was doing the same thing but in admiration for Pulisic for the sublime finish which restored Chelsea’s two-goal advantage.
Looking to make amends for his erroneous move earlier, Chelsea’s most naturally-gifted passer drifted towards the Lille 18-yard box then pushed a perfectly-weighted through ball into Pulisic’s path.
With the last kick of the half, he raced clear and slid a shot across the face of the goal and into the net to level on the night and put Thomas Tuchel’s team firmly back in control of the tie.
While it was not exactly plain sailing from there, Lille hit the post through a majestic second-half header from Xeka, the restoration of the two-goal cushion settled the players enough for them to continue their remarkable run since their club went into meltdown.
The first leg of this tie was played on February 22 – just over three weeks ago.
But it feels like a different lifetime.
Back then, Russia had not invaded neighbours Ukraine and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was sitting relatively safely in his throne room as megarich owner of a hugely successful club with a top manager.
The Russian is now an outcast, sanctioned by the UK Government for alleged ties to his tyrannical leader Vladimir Putin. And Abramovich’s beloved football club is up for sale forced to operate on a shoestring.
Boss Tuchel joked he might have to drive a seven-seater car to get the team out to play in Lille but was half-serious.
Yet money doesn’t appear to be everything and since the war kicked off, Chelsea have played six times and won five. Being skint has galvanised the players at least.
There was a similar feeling when the club was condemned to a transfer ban under Tuchel’s predecessor Frank Lampard.
The kids from the academy were promoted to the first team and the spirit in the camp went through the roof while spending power plummeted.
One of those kids was midfielder Mason Mount and he came on at half-time to prived the assist for the move which numerically sealed Chelsea’s place in the last eight.
Nineteen minutes from time he whipped in a ball from the left and Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta made it 4-1 on aggregate with a scruffy goal off his knee.