Graham Potter believes Chelsea are heading in the right direction despite a 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 meeting with Borussia Dortmund.
The Blues managed 21 attempts to the hosts’ 14 and Joao Felix cannoned a first-half effort off the crossbar as Potter’s side – still searching for just their second win in 2023 – came up empty-handed.
Defeat in front of the imposing Yellow Wall at Signal Iduna Park means Chelsea will have to quickly come up with answers before the sides meet again at Stamford Bridge on March 7.
Potter, who insisted in the pre-match press conference that he is capable of getting angry, nonetheless chose to see the evening’s glass as half full.
“They know they can do better with that. We have to help them, of course, but again we’ll probably focus on the positive which was the performance was another step forward for us.
“Before the game we were looking at Reece (James) and Ruben (Loftus-Cheek) and Ben (Chilwell) and Kalidou (Koulibaly), you know it’s their first and second games for quite some time.
“It isn’t easy to pick up the speed of the Champions League but I still think they did it really well, you’ve still got three new players coming in and again playing against a team that is in a good moment.
The third-placed Bundesliga side picked up their seventh straight victory thanks to Karim Adeyemi’s second-half solo goal – a brilliant, rapid run down the left from deep in his own half.
His speed made the difference as he evaded Enzo Fernandez before rounding Kepa Arrizabalaga and firing the winner into the empty net with a composed finish.
Emre Can made a last-ditch clearance to deny Koulibaly an equaliser when his effort rolled dangerously across the goalline in the 77th minute to give Dortmund the advantage.
Potter said: “They know the situation that we’re in and they know the challenges that we have but it’s exciting.
Dortmund boss Edin Terzic, whose side beat Premier League opposition for the first time since Tottenham in 2016, was thrilled with Dortmund’s effort against the Blues, particularly his goal-scorer.
“It’s ‘meep meep’ and off he goes,” Terzic joked of Adeyemi.
“It was a crucial situation for us. He did it and it was also a clinical finish. He didn’t chip the ball, he didn’t shoot the ball, he used his pace to pass the goalkeeper as well and then he had the clinical shot.
“It was an outstanding goal and we hope he can continue like this because this is a weapon that is very hard to defend for every opponent.