Over the course of 90 minutes in Salzburg tonight, we saw a wide variety of play from Chelsea, a full-range performance if you will: from the woeful opening 22 minutes, to the most stellar next 23 minutes, to the early frustration of the second half, to the jaw-dropping elation of the winning goal (not to mention our first goal), and the suffering of the closing minutes.
On balance, there was a lot to be happy with and even more that we can see as promising for the future. Some of the interplay and chance-creation were spectacular. Familiar issues in actually finishing our chances threatened to haunt us again, while Graham Potter’s gung-ho formation left a lot of spaces for Salzburg to exploit whenever our control through possession broke down — before a switch to a back-four solidified things a bit for the final onslaught from the hosts.
Potter’s all sunshine and rainbows on a bad day (at least in public), so obviously he was quite happy with what was an important win: our third in a row in the group, guaranteeing a spot in the Champions League knockout rounds, and probably as group winners, even.
“It’s not easy to win here as you can see from the record they have and the quality of the team. We had to play well and I thought we did. We created some good chances in the first half and were unlucky not to go more than 1-0 up.
“Then one action, with the quality at this level, and it’s 1-1. I thought out response was really good then so I am delighted to go through, delighted with the performance of the players: I thought they were fantastic tonight. To go through with a game to spare is brilliant considering where we started the competition.”
“It’s not easy to create chances against this team because defensively they are so intense and aggressive. I thought we did create some good chances from good play. We’ve had a lot of games and a little bit of disruption in terms of some key players missing, but credit to the boys they’ve responded really well. They’ve picked up points in the Premier League and to go through like we have in the Champions League is a fantastic effort from everybody.
“We will take steps, it will not be a straight road, unfortunately. But we will take steps and tonight was one I think.”
-Graham Potter; source: Football.London
Steps taken, indeed. Plenty more to go.