Blues go into next week’s return leg favourites to progress to the final
Pedro scored a crucial away goal as Chelsea managed to recover from a slow start to gain a 1-1 draw in in their UEFA Europa League first-leg away to Eintracht Frankfurt.
The Spaniard’s equaliser in the closing stages of the first-half means Maurizio Sarri’s men go into the return leg at home at Stamford Bridge as the favourites to progress to final against either Arsenal or Valencia.
Frankfurt took the lead through their top scorer Luka Jović, who is wanted by many clubs across Europe. The highly-sought-after Serbian striker got on the end of Filip Kostic’s ball and brilliantly headed home in the 23rd minute, although Kepa Arrizabalaga could possibly have done better with the goal.
Chelsea started off slowly but finally started to get into the game after an half-hour gone and it finally found their rhythm as Pedro as he fired home on the stroke of half-time (45), an equaliser which also ended up being a vital away goal for the Premier League side.
The Blues, who started with Eden Hazard on the bench due to fixture congestion, came out strong in the second half and many chances to win and potentially seal the tie, but unfortunately was not able to add any more goals.
Pedro and Ruben Loftus-Cheek went close before David Luiz’s blockbuster free-kick smashed off the crossbar on the hour mark.
Chelsea should have won the game but will take confidence from the second-half display going into the second leg.
The draw means that Chelsea become the first team to go 16 successive UEFA Europa League matches without defeat, breaking the record set by Atlético Madrid from 2011 to 2012. They will have the chance to make it 17 in next Thursday’s second leg.
Possession (%) – Frankfurt 33%, Chelsea 67%
Shots – Frankfurt 6, Chelsea 16
Shots on Target – Frankfurt 2, Chelsea 5
Corners – Frankfurt 4, Chelsea 11
Fouls – Frankfurt 16, Chelsea 9
Offsides – Frankfurt 2, Chelsea 1
Yellow/Red Cards – Frankfurt 2/0, Chelsea 1/0
(Bonus Stat) 13 – Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea are the only team still unbeaten in this season’s Europa League (W11, D2).
• Very shaky first 30, the better team for the last 60.
• Frankfurt was nothing special, back 4 should have never allowed them their goal.
• RLC did everything but score.
• Jorginho with a composed display
• Christensen had a shaky first-half, but had a great second.
• Azpi/Willian very poor.
Chelsea Player/Manager Ratings
Kepa – 6, Couldn’t have done much for Jovic’s goal to be honest. Besides that, had nothing else to do.
Azpilicueta – 5, The game for me that finalises my opinion in that it’s time for a new main right-back. A deep shadow of his former self.
Christensen – 7, He had a very shaky first-half, but came out at half-time and put had a great second-half display.
David Luiz – 6, Done enough in the end to put in a decent defensive performance. But only just.
Emerson – 5, Confirming my belief with every passing game that’s he nothing special and has only looked good at left-back due to Alonso being THAT bad.
Kanté – 6, Pressed as always and gave moments of support going forward, but looked shaky when Frankfurt on the attack and needed help from players around him on multiple occasions.
Jorginho – 8, Put in a very composed performance at the base of the midfield. Good distribution, good pressing and worked his socks off.
Loftus-Cheek – 8, MOTM. Did everything but score tonight. Never gave Frankfurt a moment’s peace and steamrolled them throughout. Watching him was like seeing a brick on skates.
Pedro – 6, Great goal, but offered nothing besides it. Very wasteful throughout.
Giroud – 5, Simply put, ‘Thursday Night Ronaldo’ did not turn up tonight.
Willian – 4, Poor distribution, poor set-pieces, poor decision making… Poor.
Hazard (61′ for Willian) – 6, Wasn’t able to get into the game and be as influential as he usually is.
Kovačić (82′ for Loftus-Cheek) – N/A
Maurizio Sarri – 7