Chelsea opened up their Champions League account this year with a 6-0 win over Qarabag in their opening group game at Stamford Bridge. The Blues were coming into this game full of confidence after a run of three wins domestically. From start to finish, Chelsea controlled the game and it turned out to be an easy nights work for Antonio Conte’s side.
Conte had never won an opening game in the Champions League before, and was looking to change his fortunes against the weakest team in the group, most would say.
Changes rung the changes, with Christensen and Batshuayi coming in, allowing for a few players, Alvaro Morata one of them, to be rested ahead of a key fixture this coming Sunday, against Arsenal.
Pedro opened the scoring, with a finish from the edge of the box into the right, after a short corner with Willian providing the assist.
The Blues doubled their lead with what some would say a freak goal. New boy Davide Zappacosta made a run down the right-hand side, past a few players, and swung a delivery, an inaccurate one, which flew into the near post of the Qarabag net to make it 2-0. After the game, the Italian confirmed it was meant to be a cross, and wasn’t intentional. We admire his honesty!
A third goal was then scored inside the opening 10 minutes of the second half with Cesar Azpilicueta heading home from close range, after Cesc Fabregas outside of the foot delivery met the Spaniard’s head.
Eden Hazard was then introduced for the first time this season to the Stamford Bridge faithful, who replaced the opening goalscorer Pedro, somewhat to the delight to the fans.
Bakayoko replaced fellow Frenchmen N’Golo Kante, and soon had a goal in his first European appearance for Chelsea, after scoring from inside the box, to make it 4-0 for Chelsea.
But the Blues kept going. It was Michy Batshuayi’s turn to get in on the action, hitting a low right footed shot past the keeper from 20-yards out to add further misery to the Azerbaijan side.
The night got even worse, with an own goal to make it six. Zappacosta claimed the ball back high in Qarabag’s half and drilled a low cross into the box, which Batshuayi looked to have scored, but UEFA took it off him and awarded it as an own goal.
It ended 6-0 which sees Chelsea top the group after match day one, with the result in Rome between Roma and Atletico Madrid ending nil nil, making it an even better night for Chelsea. With four wins on the bounce, can they emulate another run like last year. Last month, they were dubbed to be in ‘crisis’, look where they are now.
They face Arsenal on Sunday, back at the Bridge hoping for another fine performance tonight. First game back, and back with a bang. We have certainly missed these European nights.