If there’s one thing we learned this week, it’s that strange things can happen in European knockout competitions, so when Chelsea kept missing chance after chance after chance (Pedro could’ve had a hat-trick by himself in the first-half not just the one goal), a bit of doubt started creeping in. Was this going to be one those European nights?
Willian doubled Chelsea’s advantage just past the hour-mark and it was smooth sailing from then on, not that it was at all choppy beforehand. Loftus-Cheek could’ve added to the lead but instead settled for the assist as Hudson-Odoi added a third just before the end of regulation.
Job done and a solid lead for next week’s second leg away.
And yes, today’s Willian free kick was almost a carbon copy of that perfect Willian free kick in 2015. Same player, same end, same opposition, Chelsea’s second goal again, but about 5 yards further out (and much later in the game with a closer scoreline) back then.
- Solid amount of rotation in the starting lineup, although Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi only made the bench. Kepa, Christensen, Jorginho, Barkley, and Willian retained their places from the weekend, with Alonso, David Luiz, Zappacosta, Kovačić, Pedro, and Giroud coming in.
- Early-ish subs of RLC and Kanté to shore up the midfield (Barkley, Jorginho making way). Kovačić plays regista afterwards.
- Hudson-Odoi gets a dozen minutes towards the end and gets on the scoresheet.
- Another clean sheet and no shots on target allowed.
- That’s Captain David Luiz to you, punk
- Turns out no VAR in operation (today?) in the Europa League, so when Alonso inadvertently blocked a cross for a corner with an arm, there was no chance for anyone to overanalyze things in a situation that no one thought warranted further examination.
- Next up: Wolves at home on Sunday, then the second leg next Thursday