Callum Hudson-Odoi scored a marvellous second-half goal as Chelsea cruised into the Europa League last 16 with a 3-0 victory (5-1 on agg) over Malmo at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues, who led 2-1 from the first leg, started off slowly but showed huge signs of improvement after the break to confirm their place in tomorrow’s round of 16 draw (Midday, UK time).
Olivier Giroud opened the scoring for the hosts, netting in his fifth successive Europa League game – which effectively sealed the two-legged affair overall – as he put Chelsea ahead in the 55th minute with a simple tap-in from an assist from Willian.
Ross Barkley (74) doubled the lead with a superb, curling free-kick after Rasmus Bengtsson was sent off for a second yellow card. Hudson-Odoi (85) then rounded off another fine starting performance with the third and final goal of the night, driving in from the right-hand side to confidently score a low, angled shot beyond the Malmo’s Johan Dahlin, much to the delight of the 18-year-old.
The scoreline might flatter the overall performance from the home side tonight, but the quality between the two teams eventually showed and the much-discussed ‘SarriBall’ showed signs of what is capable of when played to the right tempo.
Tonight’s victory and performance will be a huge boost for Maurizio Sarri and his side going into Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final against Manchester City.
Whether this result will ease the pressure on Sarri however, remains to be seen.
Possession (%) – Chelsea 72%, Malmo 28%
Shots – Chelsea 11, Malmo 5
Shots on Target – Chelsea 6, Malmo 0
Corners – Chelsea 2, Malmo 1
Fouls – Chelsea 13, Malmo 12
Offsides – Chelsea 3, Malmo 0
Yellow/Red Cards – Chelsea 1/0, Malmo 3/1
(Bonus Stat) 6 – Callum Hudson-Odoi has been directly involved in six goals in his last six starts for Chelsea in all competitions (3 goals, 3 assists).
- Very average first-half, much-improved second-half.
- Kante was an absolute machine tonight. Duracell battery, limitless mode.
- Hudson-Odoi HAS TO start on Sunday. Do the right thing Maurizio!
- Whisper it quietly but… we saw actual moments of SarriBall. Sssh.
Chelsea Player/Manager Ratings
Caballero – 6, Nothing to do overall. Looked shaky on the ball sometimes which made the defence a bit nervous.
Azpilicueta – 5, The decline is starting to show for ‘Captain Dave’. Doesn’t have the legs to play in an attack-minded, pressing team unfortunately.
Rudiger – 6, Hard working as always, but clear signs that his form has dropped off dramatically in the last few weeks.
Christensen – 7, Assured, commanding performance from the Danish International. Easily our best CB and defender overall. Starting to become a pillar of the team?
Emerson – 7, Once again showed why he is night and day a better LB for us than Alonso.
Kanté – 8, MOTM. Brilliant display from the universally loved Frenchman. Like a Duracell battery nut on limitless mode. Anyone who continues to say that he’s NOT a Box-to-Box midfielder and just a DM lacks the football intelligence in my honest opinion.
Kovačić – 7, Started off shaky but grew into the deeper role he played tonight. Needs more time in the ‘regista’ during the rest of the season but is technically sound enough to play the role when needed.
Barkley – 7, Slow start and was very average in the first half, but had a much improved second half. Great free kick for the second goal. Still needs to improve on certain things, maybe has a confidence issue at times as well?
Hudson-Odoi – 8, Once again showed why Chelsea are desperate to keep him and why the fans are desperate for him to play more. Plays the game in such an effortless way, almost like he’s playing with his friends on the street so to speak. A generational talent in the making.
Giroud – 6, Another hard-working display and continued his fine goalscoring form in the Europa League. But is starting to show clear signs as to why Chelsea needed to get Higuain in January and most likely another striker in the Summer.
Willian – 6, Not a bad performance from the Brazilian but not a great one either. Laid on a great assist for Giroud, can’t deny that.
Loftus-Cheek (76′ for Kante) – 7, Didn’t have a lot to do as the game was already wrapped when he came on but in the limited time he had, Ruben clearly showed how much the team has missed him for what he can do.
Jorginho (76′ for Barkley) – 6, Just like Loftus-Cheek, didn’t have much to do in my opinion. Clearly saved for Sunday.
Ampadu (79′ for Azplicueta ) – 6, Nice to see Ethan get a few minutes, surprisingly at RB too. Sensed he would have started if the first-leg lead coming into tonight was bigger,
Sarri – 7, Surprised the majority of the Chelsea fanbase by actually picking players on merit and fan desire tonight. And despite a slow start overall, the team selection – and subs – paid off as we ended up with a convincing and easy victory.