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PAOK vs. Chelsea, Europa League: Live blog

Europa League, group stage, matchday 1

Photo by SAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images


FULL TIME: Chelsea win!

90+6min: Giroud takes the free kick. It goes over.

90+4min: Pedro looks to have hurt his left arm. He walks off slowly as the medical team holds it away from his body and steady.

92min: Chelsea break, Kante finds Pedro, but his touch is long and the goalkeeper saves while colliding with the Chelsea man. Pedro did get pushed from behind, and Chelsea get a free kick. Pedro stays down for treatment, holding his face. El Kaddouri gets a yellow.

90min: Warda and Rudiger flashpoint while the free kick is waiting to be taken. Rudiger slaps Warda’s hand away, to which he responds by grabbing Rudi’s throat. Warda gets a yellow, and Chelsea defend the free kick.

89min: Barkley earns Chelsea’s first yellow for a foul in the middle of the pitch to stop an attack.

85min: Pedro and Fabregas combine for a turnover and PAOK pour forward. But Arrizabalaga makes the routine save on Biseswar’s shot. At the other end, Giroud slams one towards goal and is parried for a corner. Giroud then has a chance on the corner but misses his header, while Barkley almost gets to it on the next cross but Vieirinha’s there just in time to clear.

81min: Kepa’s called into action for the first time all game, pushing a deep cross out for a corner. Ball eventually finds Vieirinha, but his long range effort goes wide. PAOK now pushing for the equalizer.

80min: Morata leads the counter but for some reason doesn’t make the easy pass to Willian and is crowded out. Both teams make their final changes, Giroud on for Morata and Biseswar on for Leo Jaba.

75min: Chelsea with a glorious chance to break, but slow legs and poor passing lead to a rather poor effort. PAOK growing in confidence.

71min: Pedro draws a good save from the goalkeeper after creating his own shot with some quick footwork.

69min: PAOK’s dangerous striker Prijovic finally enters the game.

68min: Morata scores ... but is offside. Replays show he might have been onside.

66min: Pedro’s crushed by a Vieirinha bodycheck. The PAOK captain escapes a yellow card after the referee plays advantage.

65min: Double-change for Chelsea as Cesc Fabregas replaces Jorginho and Azpilicueta replaces Marcos Alonso, who’s escaped a couple yellow cards. Azpi comes on to play on the left, with Zappacosta staying on the right. Azpi takes over from Willian as captain.

62min: Amr Warda replaces Pelkas in the game’s first change.

61min: Alonso looks set to score after more strong work from Pedro and Morata, but a trailing leg blocks the good-looking effort. Rudiger then unlucky not to score on the ensuing corner.

59min: Rudiger accidentally brushes Leo Jaba’s face during a 1-v-1 battle; referee rightly ignores the protests and flopping.

57min: Another chance as Chelsea press high and win the ball back. Pedro’s cross picks out Barkley, but his goalbound header is blocked by the unfortunate Morata. Willian spanks the rebound high and wild.

51min: Barkley tries his luck from distance. Well over. Chelsea continue to dominate possession, and chances.

49min: Morata, Pedro, Barkley combine for a first-time shot for Willian, but his effort this time is saved where in the first half it squirmed under the goalkeeper.

46min: No changes for either side at the half.

HALF-TIME, 1-0: Chelsea took the lead on Willian’s early goal, getting on the end of Ross Barkley’s through-ball and poking it under the goalkeeper who perhaps should’ve done better. Chelsea could’ve added to the lead through Morata several times, as well as a glorious chance from Pedro on a 4-v-2, but so far, no luck. As expected, the Blues have largely controlled proceedings, but as long as the lead is only the singular goal, the points will not be safe.

Here’s Willian’s goal:

KICK-OFF: Due to prior commitments, there will be no live blog for the first-half.

Welcome to Chelsea’s first ever Europa League group stage match. It’s not the competition we want to be in, but it’s the one we’ve got. Time to go on and win it then, like in 2013.

That journey begins tonight, in Thessaloniki, in front of the raucous local crowd of almost 30,000.

Here we go.

PAOK starting lineup (4-2-3-1):
Paschalakis | Tosca, Varela, Khacheridi, Vieirinha | Wernbloom, Maurício | El Kaddouri, Shakhov, Léo Jabá | Pelkas

Substitutes from: Rey, Prijović, Crespo, Limnios, Biseswar, Amr Warda, Cañas

Sarri promised a 4-5 player rotation, and that is exactly what we’re getting with Christensen, Zappacosta, Barkley, Morata, and Willian starting.

Chelsea starting lineup (4-3-3):
Arrizabalaga | Alonso, Christensen, Rüdiger, Zappacosta | Barkley, Jorginho, Kanté | Pedro, Morata, Willian (c)

Substitutes from: Caballero, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Fàbregas, Loftus-Cheek, Moses, Giroud

Date / Time: Thursday, September 20, 2018, 17:55 BST; 12:55pm EDT; 10:25pm IST
Venue: Toumba Stadium, Thessaloniki, Greece
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco

On TV: BT Sport 2 (UK); UniMás (USA); SONY TEN 2 (India); elsewhere(in the US, TNT acquired the English-language rights to both the Champions League and the Europa League, but they’ve decided to actually show none of the latter competition on TV until the final itself, so all English-language broadcasts are online only with B/R Live)
Streaming online: BT Sport Live (UK); B/R Live, Univision Now (USA); SONY LIV (India)

Be excellent to each other.

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