Chelsea put one foot into the quarter-finals of the Europa League with a convincing 3-0 first-leg home win over Dynamo Kyiv.
Playing our seventh game in just under three weeks, Maurizio Sarri’s side looked remarkably fresh and cruised past their Ukranian opponents, courtesy of goals from wingers Pedro, Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Pedro opened the scoring (17) from close range after fantastic build-up play from Oliver Giroud, which included a sublime back-heel assist.
The Blues dominated the first-half and should have gone into half-time with a far, significant lead if it wasn’t for Pedro’s poor finishing (could have had as many as FIVE goals tonight), along with the heroics of visiting goalkeeper Denys Boyko.
Thankfully, Chelsea were much more clinical in the second-half as Willian’s sumptuous free-kick (almost the carbon copy of the free-kick he scored against the same opponents back in 2015 in the Champions League) doubled their lead (65), before Hudson-Odoi rounded off another impressive cameo display by adding a late third (90) after great work from fellow substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
The match was very one-sided and Dynamo Kiev – who have never won in their 15 visits to England – showed why many who already believed they are on a level below in terms of talent and quality with a very average display.
Chelsea – now the tournament favourites – take a comfortable lead going into the return leg in Ukraine next Thursday and very hopeful of being in the hat for next Friday’s Quarter-Final (& Semi-Final) draws (Midday, UK time).
Possession (%) – Chelsea 60%, Dynamo Kiev 40%
Shots – Chelsea 12, Dynamo Kiev 4
Shots on Target – Chelsea 6, Dynamo Kiev 0
Corners – Chelsea 5, Dynamo Kiev 2
Fouls – Chelsea 14, Dynamo Kiev 15
Offsides – Chelsea 3, Dynamo Kiev 4
Yellow/Red Cards – Chelsea 0/0, Dynamo Kiev 2/0
(Bonus Stat) 7 – Olivier Giroud has been directly involved in seven goals in his last six Europa League games for Chelsea, scoring six and assisting one. Spearhead.
• Good win and performance tonight. Job done.
• Quarter-Finals here we come. Dynamo Kiev are bang average.
• Just a shame we didn’t win 4/5/6-0 even as the chances were there to do so.
• Our finishing needs to improve dramatically – Pedro should have had a hat-trick tonight.
• Delighted for RLC/CHO in their cameos – of course, we want starts for both. Hopefully SOON.
Chelsea Player/Manager Ratings
Kepa – 6, Didn’t have anything of note to do to be honest.
Zappacosta – 6, Had nothing much to do either, but his final ball and crossing as per usual was a big disappointment.
Christensen – 7, Solid outing once again for Andreas. I’m hopeful he becomes our go-to CB from now on but you can tell the club have confidence in him so he’s not going anywhere soon.
David Luiz – 8, Great performance from the stand-in captain. Lead the defensive line very well and his passing was on another level from everyone else. Just a shame he can’t do this on a more consistent basis, which is frustrating.
Alonso – 6, Exact same words I used to describe Zappacosta’s performance can be used for Marcos.
Kovačić – 8, Has started to show what he can really offer to the club over the last few games. Been fantastic recently. Wouldn’t say no to making him a permanent signing at the Bridge.
Jorginho – 6, Off night for the Italian. Surprised he started as he has been in the need for a rest for a while now. Hopefully back to better ways against Wolves at the weekend.
Barkley – 6, Typical performance from Ross. Wasn’t bad as many make him out to be, but just doesn’t offer enough going forward to justify him to keep getting selected ahead of others. What has happened to the ‘Barkley of Everton’ reputation we bought him on?
Willian – 7, On his day, he easily puts in world-class performances. The problem is is that it’s how often those ‘on his day’ performances actually happen. Good game tonight nonetheless. One game average, the next game great. I swear I’ve mentioned this multiple times already this season…
Giroud – 7, Great first-half, quiet second. His link-up play is unrivalled at the club, phenomenal. Despite his lack of goals (outside of the Europa League), he should get more respect for what he offers to the team in my opinion.
Pedro – 8, MOTM. Overall, his performance was great – work rate off the ball, composed with the ball and good to see his goalscoring come back as of recent games. With that said, besides the goal – his finishing was awful. Should have had 4 goals tonight and Chelsea would have 5,6 minimum overall. Needs to be more clinical.
Kanté (62′ for Jorginho) – 6, Quiet cameo from the Frenchman but still solid as ever.
Loftus-Cheek (62′ for Barkley) – 8, The only reason why I believe he’s still only making appearances from the bench is that the club are making sure his back doesn’t go again. When he’s fit, he MUST be starting – offers SO MUCH to our team from a midfield perspective. Dynamic.
Hudson-Odoi (78′ for Willian) – 7, Another good runout for the youngster. ANOTHER goal too which is great. Of course, we all want him to get more minutes, let’s just hope he’s patient enough – his time is coming very, very soon. We hope…
Maurizio Sarri – 8, Once again was questioned before the game for his choice of starting lineup and substitutions, but his decisions once again paid off. Clearly had one eye at Wolves at the weekend and most probably looked at results of other teams elsewhere, making sure the game was first over which would then allow the team (and personnel) to be more expressive.