Chelsea opened their UEFA Europa League Group L with a 1-0 win in Greece over PAOK. Chelsea has now won all 6 games at the start of the season under their boss Maurizio Sarri.
Chelsea from minute one to minute ninety dominated the game. In the first half, early on in the 6th minute, Willian put Chelsea in front after a brilliant pass from Barkley left Willian one-on-one with the keeper and he slotted it under the keeper to give Chelsea a very early lead. From then on, Chelsea had a lot of chances, with Morata missing 3 guilt edge opportunities which showed that he is a striker very low on confidence. He did everything right today except finishing. Chelsea as the first half went on cut open PAOK on many occasions and Pedro in the 37th minute missed a one-on-one chance after Alonso spotted Pedro in space. However, Pedro shot straight at the keeper so at half-time Chelsea led 1-0. In reality, if they were more clinical they could have had 3 or 4 goals in that first half. Would those missed chances make them pay in the second half? Well, the second half started the same way as the first, with Willian, Pedro, and Morata missing more chances for Chelsea who were dominant all throughout this game with over 65% possession and created 22 shots, with 5 being on target. But as the half grew on, Chelsea’s performance dropped and PAOK was starting to get back into the game, however, they created nothing really. So as we were edging towards the 90-minute mark, PAOK had a few free kicks in dangerous positions but made nothing of them. The last notable thing to report from the game was that Pedro sustained what looks like a dislocated shoulder, which could be a huge blow for Chelsea considering Pedro’s impressive start to the season. Chelsea fans will hope that the injury is not too serious. But the game petered out and ended 1-0 to Chelsea. Overall Chelsea will need to be more clinical in future games as on another day, they could have easily dropped points.
Player ratings out of 10
PAOK- Manager: Razvan Lucescu
Paschalakis-6 , Vieirinha- 5, Khacheridi- 5, Varela- 5, Tosca- 5, Mauricio- 5, Wernbloom- 4, Léo Jabá- 4, Shakhov- 3, El Kaddouri- 4, Pelkas- 3, Subs; Warda- 6, Prijovic- 5, Biseswar- 5.
Chelsea- Manager: Maurizio Sarri
Kepa- 5, Zappacosta- 5, Alonso- 7, Rüdiger- 7, Christensen- 7, Kante- 8, Jorginho- 9 (Man of the match) , Barkley- 7 (1x assist), Willian- 8 (1x goal), Pedro- 8, Morata- 6, Subs; Fabregas- 5, Azpilicueta – 5, Giroud- 5.
What’s next for both teams
Both teams return to league action this weekend, with PAOK having a home game against AEK Athens on Sunday at 6:30 pm, whereas Chelsea gets back to Premier League action and they face West Ham United away at the London Stadium at 1:30 pm on Sunday. In terms of each teams next Europa league games in group L; PAOK will face BATE Borisov away on the 4th of October at 8 pm, whereas Chelsea takes on Vidi FC at home at Stamford Bridge.
Other results in group L
Vidi FC 0-2 Bate Borisov
Position in Europa League group after matchday 1
Bate Borisov tops the group with 3 points and a +2 goal difference. Chelsea is in second place with 3 points, but only +1 goal difference. PAOK is third in the group, with 0 points, and with a -1 goal difference, and Vidi FC is bottom of the group, with 0 points, and a -2 goal difference.
By Danyal Khan.
P.S. Please could you add an image of PAOK vs Chelsea badges as the featured image.