There is no worse-kept secret in world football than the fact that N’Golo Kante is a machine. The French pocket dynamite is a force of nature, terrorizing opponents with his extraordinary work rate and his immense ability to intercept the ball and curb potential danger for his team.
Kante did justice to his brilliant reputation in Chelsea’s Champions League Round of 16 clash against Atletico Madrid last night, as the World Cup-winning midfielder put in a truly tireless shift that secured him the Man of The Match award on the night as Chelsea emerged 2-0 winners – thanks to goals from Hakim Ziyech and Emerson Palmieri.
The West London club progressed to the quarter-finals on 3-0 aggregate, as their most important midfield asset shone the brightest on the night – particularly late in the game to secure the win for Chelsea.
Kante put on a dominant display alongside Mateo Kovacic in midfield, as the midfield pairing cleaned up any chances of potential damage by Diego Simeone’s side. Kante was everywhere on the pitch – be it connecting the defence with the attack, or covering up for the Chelsea attack every time Atletico tried to get at them on the counter.
The tireless Frenchman showed immense ability and intent to venture down the field even late in the game – as could be seen from the run that he made into Atletico’s defensive third in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Kante showed unbelievable work rate and an acute footballing brain, as he went on a deceptive run towards the depleted Atletico rear guard on the counter – just so that he could occupy a backtracking defender while opening up space for Christian Pulisic running with the ball, who passed to the untracked Emerson Palmieri who eventually scored Chelsea’s second of the night.
The passage of play summed up what a priceless asset that Kante is for the club, as he put on an incredible performance to push Chelsea to the brink of qualification to the quarter-finals – which they eventually did end up securing on the night.
Here’s how football fans reacted to N’Golo Kante’s world-class display last night –
That Kante performance is one of the best performances I’ve seen from any Chelsea player in my 43 years of supporting the club. Incredible.— ✈️ (@Arrizabalager) March 17, 2021
94th minute, look who's absolutely bolted into attack, fresh as a daisy. An all-time great performance that. pic.twitter.com/IFrIZhnc3Y— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) March 17, 2021AdvertisementAdvertisement
It's easy to put Kanté's extraordinary ability to pop up everywhere on the pitch down to his stamina and 'energy'- when, in fact, it is because he reads the game better than almost everyone else. He not 'everywhere' – he's in the right place, almost all of the time.— Philippe Auclair (@PhilippeAuclair) March 17, 2021
Kanté’s put in one of those performances where once these atleti players retire and get asked as pundits who their most difficult opponent in their career was, they’ll reference this game— John Carrafiell (@JohnCarrafiell) March 17, 2021
Just noticed Kante sprinted past Pulisic from our own box for the second goal. He’s actually not human. What an outrageously good performance from him today. Reminded everyone why there’s no better DM in the world, on the biggest of stages. #CHEATM— Jake Heasman (@jakeheasman) March 17, 2021
N'Golo Kante with as close to a 10/10 CL game you'll ever see from a midfielder.— Ayden (@AydenMalek) March 17, 2021
It'll be forgotten because he didn't get a goal or an assist but that was a football heritage performance. pic.twitter.com/f6mh2R30CZ
Kante defied stats today. Had a world class performance purely thanks to his positioning and anticipation of danger.— CFC Central (@CFCCentral1) March 17, 2021
I don't think there is enough adjectives to describe the superhuman Avengers Endgame level performance of N'Golo Kante tonight.— Daniel Childs (@SonOfChelsea) March 17, 2021
Tonight, he's the best midfielder in the world.
Difficult to pick a MOTM for #cfc there were so many good performances. James immense down the right, Havertz's clever movement, Kovacic tireless and we're running out of superlatives for Kante – shrewd anticipation, stealthy interception, intelligent re-distribution. #CHEATM— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) March 17, 2021
Maybe N’Golo Kanté doesn’t speak much because he just saves up ultimate oxygen so he can just run around for 90 minutes at full tilt— Alex Goldberg (@AlexGoldberg_) March 17, 2021
Last night was one of Kante’s best performances in a Chelsea shirt alongside the Liverpool Super Cup game. 13 recoveries but also incredible on the ball, unshackled with a sugar rush. 3rd man run for the Emerson goal in the 93rd min, vital decoy. Brilliant since the Utd game. pic.twitter.com/vheYqihhDt— MAH (@matissearmani) March 18, 2021
Just so we are clear how good Kante was last night, here is a video summarising his performance –