Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea kicked off the defence of their Champions League crown with a 1-0 victory over Zenit. The Blues were frustrated in the first half by the Russians as they were limited to very little chances. As well as this, Chelsea had put in a poor display in the opening 45 and needed to improve.
However, after the restart, Tuchel’s men made an improvement and in the 69th minute, broke the deadlock. Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross was headed home by Romelu Lukaku for his fourth goal of the season. That proved to be the winning goal as it ended Chelsea 1-0 Zenit.
Edouard Mendy – 7
The Senegalese didn’t have much to do in between the sticks with the Blues dominating in the first half. He was called into action a few times as he kept out Zenit’s attempts on goal. However, the effort was very much easy for him but regardless, he was still there when needed. A clean sheet on opening night will satisfy Mendy as he gets a 7.
Cesar Azpilicueta – 8
Captain, leader, legend. Cesar Azpilicueta get an 8 for tonight. The skipper was a commanding leader at the back and was excellent at keeping out the Zenit attack. He made the impact when required as he delivered in an exquisite cross to Lukaku. His assist gave the Blues the lead and in the end it was a game winning assist which gave Chelsea victory. Based on his display, ‘Dave’ will receive a rating of 8.
Andreas Christensen – 7
The ‘Danish Maldini’ gets given a 7 as he was solid in the back three. Christensen got forward on a few occasions and helped out at the back when needed. The defensive three of Christensen, Azpi and Rudiger has worked wonders since Tuchel’s arrival and it was once again shown in this game. Despite the scoreline only being 1-0, it was the defence that did its duties to ensure the Blues got the three points in Group H.
Antonio Rudiger – 8
Along with Azpilicueta, German international Rudiger was composed in defence and a rock in the back three. He almost scored in the second half after making a sensational run towards goal but was unlucky not to score. Rudiger put in some excellent last ditch tackles as excelled at the back. He gets an 8 alongside fellow centre-back Azpilicueta.
Reece James – 7.5
On his return to the side, Reece James had a very good game at right wing-back and did well in both defence and attack. He made some good runs towards goal and put in some excellent crosses. He did have a chance to score in the second half but struck the side netting. Nonetheless, he attacked well down the right hand side and was a constant threat to Zenit. A 7.5 rating for the 21-year-old.
Mateo Kovacic – 8.5
Where do we even start with Mateo Kovacic? After putting in a man-of-the-match performance at the weekend against Aston Villa, he was again solid in midfield as he enjoyed getting forward. Kovacic’s passing was very much on point as he dominated in the midfield. For me, it was between Lukaku and Kovacic for man of the match and the Croatian edges it and gets an 8.5.
Jorginho – 6
Jorginho worked well in the midfield pivot again alongside Kovacic as he combined with the Croatian at times. He didn’t exactly do too much on the ball but he had a solid game in the middle of the park. Jorginho and Kovacic or ‘Jovacic’ were good together but the latter was the better of the two in the game. The Italian international still gets a respectable 6 out of 10.
Marcos Alonso – 5.5
Alonso started for the sixth straight match tonight but wasn’t impressive on the left as he lost possession on a few occasions. The Spaniard came close to doubling Chelsea’s advantage but put his effort wide. He put in a very much average performance as he was replaced by Ben Chilwell in the 82nd minute. Alonso’s crossing was poor and struggled to set up the attackers. He receives a 5.5 rating.
Hakim Ziyech – 7
Ziyech put in a good shift on the night and gets a 7. He played very well in attack and provided some nice build-up play towards goal. He put in some good crosses and did well to threaten the goalkeeper. However, he just lacked the final pass to help set up Lukaku and Co. but despite that, he was good. The Moroccan was replaced by Kai Havertz with just over an hour played. However, I’m sure he’ll make improvements in future games
Mason Mount – 5
Unfortunately, it just wasn’t Mount’s night in a Chelsea shirt. He didn’t do as well as expected and struggled on numerous occasions to get in behind the Zenit defence. When attacking towards goals, he lacked that final pass and end product. However, in his defence, Zenit were solid at the back and he was kept at bay. Nevertheless, I can only give him a 5. Not one of his finest game’s in a Chelsea shirt but I’m sure this will just be a one-off performance.
Romelu Lukaku – 8.5
Lukaku once again found himself on the scoresheet for the Blues to notch his fourth goal in four games. In the first half, he struggled to threaten the goalkeeper though he was very physical for the Zenit defence. He was frustrated a lot by the defenders and didn’t receive much help by the front three as he only managed half chances. However, in the second half, he made the breakthrough for Chelsea with a well-placed header. It wasn’t an outstanding performance from the Belgian as he lacked the support around him but still scored the winning goal and deserves an 8.5 rating.
Substitutes: Chelsea 1-0 Zenit
Kai Havertz – 6
The German was the first player brought on by Tuchel in the 62nd minute but struggled to make an impact at first. Almost scored the winning goal but Lukaku was there to pounce first. However, he did the best he could for the team so gets a 6.
Ben Chilwell – 6
The English left-back finally made his first appearance of the season in a Chelsea shirt. However, it was only for the closing stages as he came on for Alonso. He helped the team see out the win and will not doubt hope to start on Sunday against Spurs.
Thiago Silva – 5.5
Came on with eight minutes to go, replacing the captain Azpilicueta to help see the game out. Didn’t do a lot on the ball but only came to help see out the victory so just a 5.5 for the Brazilian.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – N/A
Was brought onto the pitch deep into added time as he took Mount’s place on the pitch. He pushed up the pitch in the closing stages but apart from that, I can’t give him a rating based on two minutes of action.
Written and Edited by Matt North (@MattNorth)
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