Chelsea began their Champions League campaign in underwhelming fashion against Zenit Saint Petersburg on Tuesday night, although still managed a 1-0 victory courtesy of Romelu Lukaku.
The Blues lacked any sort of tempo throughout the first half, failing to register a shot on target until the 48th minute. Hakim Ziyech’s half volley forced Zenit goalkeeper Stanislav Kristyuk into a save, but it would take until the 69th minute to finally break the deadlock.
It was inevitably Lukaku who put the hosts in front, connecting brilliantly with Cesar Azpilicueta’s beautiful in-swinging cross to head into the bottom corner and put his side ahead.
Chelsea fans’ hearts were in their mouths with ten minutes to go, as Artem Dzyuba couldn’t quite stretch enough to convert Serdar Azmoun’s cut back into an empty net from a few yards. Despite the late scare, the home side managed the remainder of the action and saw out a 1-0 victory.
Now, let’s see how the Blues players rated.
Edouard Mendy (GK) – 6/10 – Forced into two stops, neither of which troubled him at all. Another clean sheet, and an easy one at that.
Cesar Azpilicueta (CB) – 8/10 – Stepped out of defence and distributed the ball nicely, notably supplying a lovely cross for his side’s opener. Also read the game well and was aware in the face of danger.
Andreas Christensen (CB) – 7/10 – Had a tough job marking Azmoun but fared very well, keeping tight to his man to stifle his movement and proving authoritative in the air.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – 7/10 –
Reece James (RWB) – 7/10 – Had some decent moments upfield, pressing well to nick possession and delivering some dangerous crosses to register three key passes. His highlight came early on, however, reacting well to make a last-ditch intervention to deny an almost certain goal.
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – 7/10 – Tenacious in his running and defensive duties and eventually picked up the intensity to inject some thrust from midfield, playing some fantastic balls through the lines and carrying the ball upfield with great vigour.
Jorginho (CM) – 7/10 – Read play well to make five ball recoveries and was typically tidy on the ball, always remaining composed to recycle possession effectively.
Marcos Alonso (LWB) – 6/10 – Got into some very useful positions up the left wing but didn’t look his usual penetrative self, often failing to really trouble those in the middle.
Hakim Ziyech (RW) – 5/10 – Floated around and picked up space between defence and midfield well, although lacked the final pass that’s been missing for most of his Chelsea career.
Romelu Lukaku (ST) – 8/10 – Looked like being a frustrating evening as he simply wasn’t being given the service. One good ball into him, however, and he scored. Clinical. Match-winner.
Mason Mount (LW) – 6/10 – Bright and creative, constantly looking for the ball to unlock the opposition. Had some good moments but, despite making three key passes, seemed off colour when making the killer pass.
Kai Havertz (RW) – 6/10
Ben Chilwell (LWB) – N/A
Thiago Silva (CB) – N/A
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (CM) – N/A