It wasn’t the epic twelve-match scoreless streak of last season, but it certainly felt like it. And that was before Álvaro Morata missed his latest clear cut chance in the first half against Vidi in the Europa League group stage match at Stamford Bridge last night.
As Chelsea pressed for the opening goal in the second half, the gloom around him seemed to deepen even more. A cross flashed past his head — even that wasn’t working.
But then, a quick glancing header from Willian from a Cesc Fàbregas chip over the top gave Morata no time to think. He reacted like a striker should, with a quick, instinctive first-time finish that was in the back of the net before the goalkeeper could even react.
His second goal of the season, which is two more than the club’s other first-team striker, but just his 5th in 32 games, a miserable return for Chelsea’s most expensive striker.
Morata's fifth goal in 32 matches in all competitions in 2018 #cfc— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) October 4, 2018
Sarri is once again hoping that it’s the beginning of great things from the Spaniard.
“Really very happy for him. It’s very important for him to score. I think it’s very important for him to play a very good match. He played a very good match. It’s very important for him to play for the mates, for the team, like this evening. I think Alvaro can restart from this performance.”
That’s three mentions of “very important”. I think we got it, Maurizio.
Hopefully Morata gets it, too, and goes to on “restart” (i.e. score more goals) for the season ahead.
“I hope so. But, as I said before, he has to restart again, from the performance. He played very well, better than in the last period and so we can restart with this performance. He has to be confident for the performance. Sometimes you can score, sometimes not, but the performance is important.
“Of course, for us he’s a very important player. At the moment we have Alvaro and Giroud, but we have to play every three days for a long time, I think, I hope, and so he’s a very important player for us, for our season. Both, Alvaro and Olivier.”
It’s long been observed that Morata struggles against physical defenders and Vidi didn’t hesitate to pull, push, bump and lock arms to keep him out of position. Their captain, the 35-year-old veteran Roland Juhász particularly enjoyed pushing the man a decade his junior around, though Morata did get the last laugh.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to talk about the opponents. They played their match. I think Alvaro has to think only about our match, only about the result, only about the mates and not about the opponents. It’s not important.”
Or was it the last cry?
”I don’t know, but if after a goal he wants to cry, I hope to see him cry very often.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football.London
Most strikers smile after breaking a drought. But not Morata. Morata is not most strikers. He’s far more introverted, far more introspective. The goal obviously meant a ton to him. There may have been tears. Or maybe there was just a bit of dust or smoke or fog in the early October air, under the lights at Stamford Bridge.
For their part, his teammates were delighted to see Morata get a goal after 432 scoreless minutes. (Still) Captain Gary Cahill did what Gary Cahill always does: be positive.
“To see him hit the back of the net I’m obviously delighted. He’s scored many goals and we’re delighted that we’ve won, we’re delighted that he’s scored.
“I’m sure every striker says scoring goals gives them confidence. It was job done as they say. These games are difficult for all kinds of reasons. It’s important we go out motivated to get the three points.”
Gary Cahill; source: BT Sport via Football.London
Morata began last season by bagging six goals in six matches. This would be a nice time for him to rekindle that kind of form. After scoring just four times in the last four matches, Chelsea could use the goals.