Graham Potter’s Chelsea produced another dominant performance in the Champions League. They took a trip to the San Siro to take on AC Milan and brought home the team’s first ever win at the iconic Italian stadium. The Blues went to the top of Group E, after starting last week at the bottom.
AC Milan Starting XI (4-3-3):
Tatarusanu, Kalulu, Gabbia, Tomori, Hernandez, Bennacer, Tonali, Krunic, Diaz, Giroud, Leao.
Mirante, Jungdal, Dest, Coubis, Pobega, Rebic, Ballo, Origi, Messias.
Chelsea Starting XI (3-4-2-1):
Kepa, Koulibaly, T.Silva, Chalobah, Chilwell, Jorginho, Kovacic, James, Sterling, Mount, Aubameyang.
Mendy, Bettinelli, Azpilicueta, Cucurella, Gallagher, Loftus-Cheek, Zakaria, Chukwuemeka, Pulisic, Havertz, Broja.
The first half started out quite even, as a high intensity was set by both teams. Milan looked a more energetic side than the one that had played at Stamford Bridge not a week earlier, setting out with more pace and intent.
Former Chelsea man Olivier Giroud had a golden chance to put his AC Milan side ahead, as his header went just over the bar. The chance was the perfect opportunity for the Frenchman, who had scored so many goals for Chelsea in a similar way before. Nevertheless, it was 0-0, as the pressure ramped up at the San Siro.
The game sparked into life 20 minutes in, as a collision between two Chelsea academy graduates resulted in controversy. Mason Mount raced to latch onto Reece James’ pass into the box and succeeded in doing so but was pulled back by Milan’s Fikayo Tomori. The challenge resulted in a penalty to the Blues. However, the bigger talking point was that Tomori was sent off for the challenge, which seemed like an extremely harsh decision from the referee. The decision stood, and Tomori trudged down the tunnel after just 20 minutes on the field.
Chelsea’s Jorginho waited a while to take Chelsea’s penalty kick but he made no mistake from the spot. He coolly sent the Milan Goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu the wrong way, to give Chelsea the advantage at the San Siro. Almost half-way through the first half, Chelsea had the lead, at 0-1.
Not long after the Chelsea penalty, the Blues took advantage of the space given to them due to Milan’s loss of their defender. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount exchanged a lovely range of quick passes between them. The sequence of play resulted in Mount threading through an inch perfect pass into the box that Aubameyang caught onto and finished off with quality, as he hit a low composed shot into the net. 35 minutes on the clock, and Chelsea were 2 goals up in Italy.
Mount, who picked up the Man of the Match award for his performance, was unfortunate not to extend Chelsea’s lead before half-time.
The first half ended, and it looked like Milan had a mountain to climb if they were to get anything out of the game. It was AC Milan 0-2 Chelsea.
Chelsea’s 2 goals and Milan’s red card in the first half had taken the sting out of the game. A few chances however did come to AC Milan. Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga had to react quickly to turn away an excellent cross from Sandro Tonali.
Rafael Leao caused chaos in and around the penalty area as he danced his way into the box, producing a neat piece of skill. Tonali missed his shot from Leao’s cross, but the ball fell to Sergino Dest at the back post. The American put too much power behind his shot and fired it into the stands.
Chelsea also had opportunities to replicate the score-line from last Tuesday. Academy graduate Conor Gallagher had 2 chances to score his first Champions League goal for the Blues, but it became clear it just wasn’t his night to score.
Graham Potter changed personnel and shape halfway into the second half, as he accommodated for the loss of Reece James, who looked to have picked up an injury. Azpilicueta was subbed on in his place. Raheem Sterling, who had a quiet game, made way for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, creating a midfield three alongside Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic.
Just like the game at Stamford Bridge, as the clock ticked further towards full-time, Chelsea started to drain the belief away from Stefano Pioli’s Milan team. They saw out the game professionally, but chances and flashes of goal started to become few and far between.
The game ended 0-2 to Chelsea, as they went to the top of Group E in the Champions League. Fortune was in the Blues’ favour as RB Salzburg could only come away from Croatia with a draw against Dinamo Zagreb. For the first time since the Champions League started, Chelsea found themselves at the top of their table, after sitting at the bottom just last week.