Chelsea claimed a narrow victory over Malmo in the Europa League after they were greeted with a rousing atmosphere in Sweden for the first leg of their last 32 tie.
A victory was needed against a Malmo side who have qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League for the first time.
Ross Barkley poked in a curling cross from Pedro to score in the first half. After taking the lead, the Blues became more comfortable as the game went on and this showed when Olivier Giroud cooly doubled Chelsea’s lead flicked in the second half after Willian cut the ball back having beaten his opponent in the box. Giroud’s goal was his fifth goal in the Europa League this season – making him the joint-second top scorer in the competition.
There were signs of nervousness from Chelsea at the end and this showed when Malmo pulled one back with Anders Christiansen slotting home in the 80th minute.
Thankfully though, the Blues held on for the crucial win – with the result seeing Chelsea score their first away goals of 2019 and get their first win on the road since the turn of the year.
Tonight’s victory gives some much-needed relief and eases the pressure slightly on manager Maurizio Sarri as they go into next week’s second leg with two valuable away goals to their name.
Possession (%) – Malmo 27%, Chelsea 73%
Shots – Malmo 15, Chelsea 11
Shots on Target – Malmo 2, Chelsea 4
Corners – Malmo 8, Chelsea 6
Fouls – Malmo 20, Chelsea 9
Offsides – Malmo 1, Chelsea 4
Yellow/Red Cards – Malmo 0/0, Chelsea 0/0
(Bonus Stat) 4 – Olivier Giroud is the first Chelsea player to score in four successive games in European competition since Victor Moses in May 2013; a year in which they won the Europa League. Premonition?
- Positive in that we won and got crucial away-goals, but overall performance was average at best.
- Barkley/Christensen the stand-out players.
- Barkley looks much improved from Sunday. Can never doubt his effort.
- Christensen’s confidence is definitely coming back. Easily our best CB.
- No logic in Hazard/Kante coming on as subs.
- 5 minutes for Hudson-Odoi was criminal.
Chelsea Player/Manager Ratings
Arrizabalaga – 6, Nothing to do once again besides picking the ball out of the net. At the same time, deserves a much better defensive line in front of him.
Azpilicueta – 6, Starting to become more obvious with every passing game that he simply cannot play in an attack-minded team. Doesn’t have the legs to do so, which is a shame.
Christensen – 7, Another solid display from the young Dane – clear signs that the confidence is nearly 100% back now. Easily the best CB in the club, not even a debate.
David Luiz – 6, Nothing bad but nothing good either from the Brazilian. We need a better LCB come next season, otherwise the same defensive woes will appear.
Emerson – 7, Good game on a rare outing for the Italian. Offered a good amount from an attacking perspective and defended competently. Whether he’s the main LB for the club in the future, has to start ahead of Alonso for the rest of the season at the very least.
Kovačić – 7, Solid display – comfortable on the ball and worked hard as always. Still wanting more from him going forward however.
Jorginho – 6, Quiet night. Was composed on the ball as always but it’s clear he’s lacking in confidence right now.
Barkley – 8, MOTM. Best performance from Ross in a LONG time. Compared to his disastrous outing against Man City last weekend, tonight was much improved.
Pedro – 6, Good assist for the opening goal but nothing else to shout about. Starting to show his limitations often now.
Giroud – 7, Another goal in the Europa League, worked hard as always and stopped the defenders from having a quiet night. Shame his output is very inconsistent.
Willian – 5, Typical performance from Willian. How he keeps getting picked ahead of the likes of Hudson-Odoi is beyond a joke now.
Hazard (71′ for Willian) – 6, Offered a decent amount after coming on.
Kanté (74′ for Jorginho) – 5, Ran around and helped with a bit more stability in the midfield. Nothing else besides that.
Hudson-Odoi (84′ for Pedro ) – 5, Did nothing but can you blame him? The club apparently is desperate for him to stay and he gets 5 minutes? Ridiculous.
Maurizio Sarri – 6, Some of the decisions for the starting line-up were very questionable and still can’t answer now even. Thankfully, the difference compared to Malmo showed in the end. Let’s hope a better line-up is picked for Monday’s crucial FA Cup Fifth Round clash against Manchester United.