Champions League: Chelsea vs Zenit 14/9/21 – Full Match Report

Blues begin their Champions League defence with a victory against Zenit at the Bridge.


Pre-game:

In what marked the first ever meeting between the two clubs, Tuesday evening’s encounter saw Russian champions Zenit travel to Stamford Bridge to take on the competition’s previous winners – Chelsea.


With the final being held in Saint Petersburg this season, Zenit looked to begin their campaign positively, hoping to play in their own stadium should they be one of the two remaining teams.

However, standing in their way was Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea, who continue to impress under the German.


The Blues have begun the season unbeaten, conceding no goals from open play in the process.


Heading into the game, Thomas Tuchel rotated his side by making five changes to his team sheet. Captain César Azpilicueta returned to the starting eleven, alongside Andreas Christensen, Reece James, Jorginho and Mason Mount.

First half:

Despite being back under the lights at Stamford Bridge, the Blues failed to set the stage alight and endured a tough start to the game.


There was a real shortage of chances within the first half, with Zenit proving to be a tougher task than Chelsea may have expected.


The first shot on target didn’t arrive until the 38th minute as Yaroslav Rakitskiy looked to test Édouard Mendy. However, the effort was easily saved by the Senegalese international.


Eventually, the first half came to a close following a lacklustre opening 45 minutes.


Second half:

Thomas Tuchel needed energy from his side, which is exactly what he received in the second half.


The Blues immediately looked like a different team, with Hakim Ziyech having Chelsea’s first shot on target on the 46th minute. Three minutes later, Stamford Bridge almost erupted as Antonio Rüdiger came close to scoring after running the length of the pitch with the ball.


There were later chances for both Reece James and Sardar Azmoun, but neither was able to capitalise.


As the game reached the hour mark, Tuchel’s side started to switch between the gears – eventually finding the opener on the 69th minute.


Chelsea’s new signing Romelu Lukaku was the scorer once again, converting César Azpilicueta’s cross to give the Blues an all-important lead.

The Russian side went on to huff and puff, but each of their attacks were broken down by a resilient Chelsea defence. Zenit had their best chance of the game on the 79th minute, but Artem Dzyuba failed to find the back of the net from six yards.


In stoppage time there was a chance for Romelu Lukaku to round off the performance with another goal, but a superb challenge from Douglas Santos denied the Belgian a 15th goal in 14 Champions League appearances.


The full-time was blown just seconds later, confirming Lukaku’s earlier header as the game winner.

After the whistle:

It wasn’t the prettiest of Chelsea performances, but the Blues were still able to hang on to three important points against a stubborn opponent.


Not only is Tuchel’s side celebrating a win, but they are also celebrating yet another clean sheet. Goalkeeper Édouard Mendy made his 50th club appearance in the game and has kept 29 clean sheets in the process.


Despite losing, Zenit can still have their head held high following a solid performance. The Russian club defended well and made life different for the reigning European champions.


Next up for Zenit is a trip to Kazan next Monday. For Chelsea, their next fixture will take place on Sunday in a London derby against Tottenham.


Final score:

Chelsea 1-0 Zenit.

- Lukaku (69’).


BBC Sports player of the match:

Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea).

Line-ups:

Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta © (83’), Christensen, Rüdiger; James, Kova, Jorginho, Alonso (83’); Mount (90+3’), Ziyech (63’); Lukaku.

- Subs: Havertz (63’), Silva (83’), Chilwell (83’), Loftus-Cheek (90+3’).


Zenit (5-4-1): Kritsyuk; Sutormin, Barrios, Chistyakov, Rakitskiy (88’), Santos; Malcolm (75’), Wendel (76’), Kuzyaev (82’), Claudinho (88’)(; Azmoun.

- Subs: Dzyuba (75’), Erokhin (76’), Kravtsov (82’), Krugovoy (88’), Mostovoy (88’).


Referee:

Bartosz Frankowski.


Attendance:

39,252.


Possession:

Chelsea (66%) vs Zenit (44%).


Shots:

Chelsea (11) vs Zenit (6).


Shots on target:

Chelsea (2) vs Zenit (2).


Corners:

Chelsea (7) vs Zenit (4).


Fouls:

Chelsea (9) vs Zenit (5).

- (credit | BBC Sport).


Match highlights:

- (credit | BT Sport).

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Written by Ryan Bellenie (@BellenieSport).

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