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Pulisic Watch: USMNT star fouled 11 times as Chelsea advances


SEVILLE, SPAIN - APRIL 13: Christian Pulisic of Chelsea FC competes for the ball with Kepler Lima ‘Pepe’ of Porto during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between Chelsea FC and FC Porto at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on April 13, 2021 in Seville, Spain. Sporting stadiums around Spain remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

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Save a goal, Christian Pulisic and Chelsea will love everything they saw from the American in the Blues’ 1-0 second-leg loss to Porto in Sevilla as a part of UEFA Champions League quarterfinal action on Tuesday, a 2-1 advantage over 180 minutes sending Chelsea to its first UCL semifinal in seven years.

USMNT fans will also be thrilled that Pulisic was trusted to play 180 minutes over four days, further putting to rest concerns of the American’s status under his new boss Thomas Tuchel.

As for his fitness and toughness? Pulisic was fouled a Messi-esque 11 times by Porto in the draw.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Porto, PSG-Bayern recaps ]

Pulisic was at the heart of everything Chelsea did on Tuesday. While he failed to score after collecting a brace at the weekend in Premier League play, the American was trusted to deliver the goods

Here are Pulisic’s minute-by-minute contributions in the second leg, with his full-time stats at bottom.

8th minute: Pulisic finds Mason Mount and quickly darts away to create space, but Mount’s bid to score in both ties is deflected out for a corner kick.

16th minute: Porto attacks the American in a rare bit of possession, as Chelsea is happy to contain its lead and hope to find a third goal through individual brilliance.

18th minute: Part of a three-man counter attack led by N’Golo Kante, Pulisic runs to the top of the arc, where he gets the ball and moves it right to left. His square pass is sent low and Reece James either mishits a shot or times an ethereal first touch pass into the 18 for Pulisic. It’s probably the former and the American is a split-second away from reacting to the chance Iand can’t quite get to the ball for 1-0.

25th minute: A coming-together with Pepe was probably a foul on the ex-Real Madrid star but the referee sees it as a misstep from Pulisic and play goes on.

HT stats: 2-of-2 dribbles, 33 touches, 19-of-23 passing, 6-of-10 ground duels won, four fouls drawn, two fouls, one interception.

52nd minute: Porto looks inspired now and Pulisic takes a free kick partial clearance and scoops a clever pass into the path of Reece James to briefly allay the pressure.

54th minute: Pulisic goes airborne to try and turn the ball inside the goal but can’t adjust his foot and the ball wanders off his boot to stymy his and Chelsea’s best chance since the 18th minute.

57th minute: The American is fouled hard while working the ball to Kante, who sets up Mount for a chance that is blocked out for a corner. This is a familiar Porto performance but Chelsea won’t be too bothered as it’s still 2-0 on aggregate and the Dragons don’t look likely to threaten enough.

59th minute: Part of a Chelsea foray down the left, Pulisic lays off for Mount but the English midfielder can’t hit a target.

68th minute: Wins another foul with a dribble into the center of the pitch.

82nd minute: There Is still a lot of life in Pulisic’s legs, the 22-year-old flying around to collect a designed, short-played free kick. He chipped into the path of James.

87th minute: Get the ice bath ready, and then have a second one on standby. Pulisic pulls away from Otavio’s foul, then is hauled down by Luis Diaz. The latter of the two gets his money’s worth for his yellow card, kicking the prone Pulisic in the back of the leg after the American hits the deck.

90' + 2: Saved on a partial breakaway moments after the referee whistles for an 11th foul drawn. by Pulisic. Quite a game, and he may be Man of the Match on a day that N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Thiago Silva, and Antonio Rudiger also stood tall.

FT stats: Three shots, one on target, three-of-three dribbles. Sixty-five touches, 29-of-35 passes, two key passes, 15-of-19 ground duels won, 1-of-5 aerial duels, two fouls given, 11 drawn. One interception and one tackle.

Follow @NicholasMendola