Chelsea started the game slowly — and that’s being generous — but a Mateo Kovačić strike out of practically nothing sparked the team and the game into life, and after a woeful opening 22 minutes, we saw some of the best attacking play from Potter’s Chelsea over the remaining 23 minutes of the first-half.
It was truly a shame that we couldn’t finish off any of these stellar moves, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang alone guilty of missing a hat-trick of excellent clear cut chances and Kai Havertz also chipping in with a poor header from five yards out.
Chelsea were made to pay immediately for all that wastefulness, as Salzburg exposed the wide open spaces available at the back to nab an equalizer just minutes into the second half.
Our response to the equalizer was good, but we continued to waste the chances created in front of goal ... until Havertz took matters into his own hands, and scored a most gorgeous goal, picking out the top corner from just outside the box.
Salzburg looked to respond but Kepa and Silva conspired to keep them out with some important saves, blocks, and clearances ... and a bit of luck, too. A switch to a back-four for the final quarter hour helped solidify things as well, even as Salzburg piled on the pressure.
- Nominally a 3-5-2 with Sterling and Pulisic as the wide players, but more of a 3-3-4 in practice with Gallagher often covering the right flank and Cucurella doing the same on the left.
- Back-four for the final 15, with Azpilicueta on at right back.
- Salzburg lose at home for the first time in 20 months and 41 games.
- Chelsea advance to the knockout round with a game to spare. If Milan beat Zagreb tonight, or if they draw, we will have won the group already as well.
- Next up: Brighton away on Saturday, the Potter Derby