Pedro’s clinical finish, assisted by Loftus-Cheek, means that Chelsea go back home with a crucial away goal from the Europa League semifinal first leg in Frankfurt. A lackluster start saw Chelsea fall behind, but Pedro’s equalizer juts before half-time led to a much improved second half performance, even if the winning goal wasn’t to be found.
While there were several good, even great, performances from the boys in yellow, including the two players interviewed after the game by BT Sport, the man controlling things in the middle was none other than the much maligned Jorginho, whose contributions with and even without the ball did not go unnoticed.
Jorginho regained possession the same amount of times as Kante tonight. Nine times for them being the most. Also, he won more duels than Kante (55.6% vs 45.5%) and he also had the best pass completion of the starting players (91% from 70 passes) #CFC #UEL #FRACHE— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) May 2, 2019
Ruben Loftus-Cheek delivered a dominant performance of his own, dribbling past players effortlessly and giving Frankfurt a tough physical battle in the center, but as he explained afterwards, part of the reason he was able to do that was because of what Jorginho was doing.
“Jorginho was really good in the second half, dictating the play. When he sucks players in, it gives me and N’Golo space to turn and run at defense, or get a pass off. So it really helped in the second half [when] we had most of the possession and were in control of the game [and] were a threat.”
-Ruben Loftus-Cheek; source: BT Sport
It’s probably just coincidence, but after Jorginho suffered a cut to his head that required a Terry Butcher-esque head bandage (minus all the blood) early in the second half, he played like a man possessed.
Teams that are able to control the midfield will win more often than not, and even though Chelsea could not find the requisite finish, Jorginho showed just how important he is to Sarri’s schemes (like them or not). Captain Azpilicueta agreed.
“Jorginho is very important to the way we play. We need him to be in control of the game, to touch the ball, to pass forward. As soon as we found him with more space, we were able to then find spaces with Ruben and N’Golo and we could create chances.”
Jorginho and the rest of the team will need to perform at least as well, if not better, in a week’s time back at Stamford Bridge, in the second leg.
“At 1-0 down we were a bit in trouble but in the last 15 minutes of first half we dominated and created chances. We scored the goal before half time and then in the second half we had more chances than them.
“We knew that we didn’t start very well. We couldn’t cope with their pressure and as a consequence, we conceded the goal. [But] scoring the goal before half-time was important, and the ambition from the team was to win the game in the second half.”
“We scored an away goal, which is always important, but it is only the first step. Everything’s going to be decided at Stamford Bridge next Thursday. We know we have to win the game because they are a dangerous team, they play with a lot of intensity.
“It’s the last step before the final: the job started in September, now let’s finish it and bring our fans to Baku.”
— César Azpilicueta; source: BT Sport
But now, the focus shifts back to the Premier League where Chelsea host Watford in the last home league game of the season. After three draws on the bounce in all competitions, three points sure would be nice (and very useful towards that all-important top four finish)!