He went into Tuesday’s game against Borussia Dortmund with questions about his future. Now a Champions League quarterfinal awaits him.
Kai Havertz’s twice-taken penalty secured a 2-0 win in front of co-owner Todd Boely at Stamford Bridge, easing the pressure on Potter and sparking celebrations at the stadium that have rarely happened during such a troubled campaign.
Chelsea took a 2-1 lead on aggregate after a 1-0 defeat in the opening round of 16 match in Dortmund last month.
We’ve been through a tough period and this competition means a lot to us, Potter said. We wanted to make progress and get into the last eight, and that sets us up for the next few weeks.
Potter certainly had positives in the most important win of his reign.
Not only did his team show character to recover from the loss in the first game, but he scored two goals in the game for the first time in 2023.
After Saturday’s 1-0 win over Leeds, Chelsea scored two straight wins for the first time since October.
Remarkably, luck may have turned away from the Potters on this night: VAR was instrumental in Havertz’s victory after Raheem Sterling gave the 2021 European champions the lead in the 43rd minute.
Referee Danny McKeley was instructed to look again at Marius Wolf’s handball, forcing the referee to award a spot kick.
Havertz stepped forward and directed Alexander Meyer the wrong way, but his shot bounced off the post and was deflected.
While Dortmund was celebrating, VAR went to work again – this time it recorded an incursion into the penalty area, which meant a second shot.
Havertz repeated his reception, again sending Meyer in the opposite direction, but this time he found the back of the goal and gave Chelsea the lead in the 53rd minute.
I don’t know what I was thinking, but the referee let me repeat the penalty, he said. I was a bit nervous, but I scored. I tried to wait and look at the goalkeeper, and the second shot was a little easier.
Potter admitted that he could not watch the second penalty shootout.
A series of just two wins in 12 matches increased speculation about his future, and a Champions League exit would have further strengthened his position.
Chelsea regained that winning feeling just in time for the biggest night of his early reign.
The west London club ended its six-match unbeaten streak with a win over Leeds on Saturday, but the pressure was still on the manager, given the way the season had fallen apart since October.
The Champions League represents Chelsea’s last chance at silverware and may be the only path back to next season for the two-time European champions, who currently sit 10th in the Premier League.
Dortmund arrived on the field after 10 straight wins in all competitions, including a 1-0 win in the opening game.
The German team also possesses one of the most sought-after players in world soccer, England midfielder Jude Bellingham, but received an early blow when key player Julian Brandt was injured and was replaced after only five minutes.
Chelsea continued to dominate midway through the half and took the lead two minutes before halftime thanks to Sterling, who shot past Dortmund goalkeeper Meyer on his second attempt after a pass from Ben Chilwell.
Havertz, whose goal secured Chelsea the Champions League title in the final against Manchester City two years ago, had already hit the post in the first half, and another attempt was cancelled out because of offside.
And he thought he missed another chance when he kicked his first penalty into the post, until VAR came to his rescue.
The last two weeks have been tough, we’ve lost a lot of games,” Havertz said. Tonight was very important. This is a big tournament, and this is the last trophy we can win. We showed character and that we want to keep going.
While Bellingham called the interrupted penalty a joke, Dortmund coach Edin Terzic was not tempted to criticize the referee.
Fair play for Chelsea and congratulations,” he said. Both games were very close for both teams, but in the end they deserved it.
In the other match of the evening, Benfica defeated Brugge 5-1 to advance to the quarterfinals with a total score of 7-1.