Chelsea started brightly but then had to settle into a bit of a slog after the first ten minutes failed to produce a goal. Zenit spent the vast majority of the half defending with all eleven players in their defensive third, with a line of five at the back intercepting every through ball and a line of four ahead of them putting on the pressure in midfield.
Zenit’s defensive intentions didn’t change after the break, but Chelsea slowly improved in our ability to break them down. Half-chances for Ziyech, Lukaku, and James followed before Azpilicueta put a perfect ball in from his typical crossing position deep in the right channel, finding Lukaku on the far post, who beat the goalkeeper with a downwards header. Simple, yet effective!
Chelsea pressed for a quick second, but were not able to make things safe and comfortable. Zenit missed one great chance to equalize through Artem Dzyuba, but Chelsea were able to see out the result in the end without too much trouble.
- Five changes from the weekend, with Christensen, Azpilicueta, Jorginho, James, and Mount replacing Silva, Chalobah, Saul, Hudson-Odoi, and Havertz, respectively.
- Havertz for Ziyech for the last 30 minutes. Last 7-10 minutes with Silva and Chilwell on for Azpi and Alonso. Christensen shifting right for Silva. RLC with a last minute cameo.
- Just one shot on target in the first half, and that from Zenit.
- Lukaku’s first Champions League start and first Champions League goal for Chelsea. That’s four in four for the big man.
- Juventus take care of business in Malmo, 3-0.
- Next up: Spurs away, on Sunday