Hakim Ziyech converts his first goal since August as Chelsea pick up an important victory in Sweden.
Written by Ryan Bellenie (@BellenieSport).
After a successful string of victories in October, Premier League leaders Chelsea began the new month with a European clash against Malmö in Sweden.
Despite thrashing the Swedish champions in the reverse fixture a fortnight ago, the game was of huge importance to Thomas Tuchel – who was focused on ensuring qualification from Group H.
The Blues had previously won all of their games in the group excluding a narrow defeat to Juventus in Turin. However, Chelsea are still to play the Italian club once more, with a trip to Russia then the final game of their group stage campaign.
Over the course of the campaign, Malmö have proved their resilience having played 12 games in order to even qualify for the group stage. The odds were stacked against Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side – who certainly had their work cut out in the early kick-off.
Christian Pulisic also returned to the matchday squad for the first time since the opening game of the season (August 14th).
The first half commenced with a brief moment of controversy as Kai Havertz looked to have been brought down in the penalty area. However, referee Felix Brych was supported by his VAR team who highlighted the lack of contact with the German.
As expected, the Blues started the game in control. However, a moment of sloppiness very nearly cost them as the hosts very nearly snuck in behind to find the opener. The Chelsea defence recovered well – shutting down the opportunity immediately.
There was a long list of half chances in the opening 25 minutes, with the likes of César Azpilicueta, Hakim Ziyech and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all looking to test Johan Dahlin.
In fact, the first half was one way traffic with the visitors almost toying with the opposition. The Blues remained patient with their attacks as Malmö looked a lot better defensively
in comparison to the game at Stamford Bridge.
There was later chances for Kai Havertz and Marcos Alonso, but both times Dahlin denied the Chelsea players. Despite making the saves, the Malmö goalkeeper looked unconviencing a came close to making mistakes from time to time. Chelsea knew to bare this in mind going into the break.
The best chance that Malmö had in the first half arrived in the dying seconds as Antonio Colak came close through a miss hit volley – which very nearly nestled into the back of the net.
It was a frustrating half for Chelsea, which was credit to the hosts who defended excellently.
Malmö were boosted by the support of the fans who were singing their hearts out from the opening whistle.
However, the incredible voice of the home fans were silenced on the 56th minute as Hakim Ziyech put the Blues ahead.
The Moroccan was picked out with a perfectly weighed cross from Callum Hudson-Odoi, leaving the 28-year-old with the simple task of putting the ball in the net.
Despite having nine shots on target in the first half, Chelsea created less in the second but looked far more dangerous. 10 minutes after the goal, Thiago Silva came close to doubling their lead but was denied by a goal line clearance.
As the game eventually wound down, Tuchel’s side managed the clock and drew all of the energy out of the game. There was a chance for Kai Havertz to find another on the 77th minute – but once again he struggled to get the better of Dahlin.
Eventually, the full-time whistle blew with Chelsea picking up three important points in Sweden.
After the whistle:
The game itself featured far less action than what we saw at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago. However, the result stayed the same with Chelsea picking up the three points and another clean sheet.
As mentioned earlier, credit must be given to Malmö who defended fantastically throughout the game. In the end, a moment of magic from Callum Hudson-Odoi was enough to separate the two sides.
Chelsea are currently playing unbelievably well and won’t want the international break to come. However, before it does, they will face Burnley on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.
For Malmö, they will next be in action on Sunday evening as they return to league action to face Göteborg.
Malmö 0-1 Chelsea.
- Ziyech (56’).
BBC Sports Player of the match:
Andreas Christensen (Chelsea).
Malmö (3-5-2): Dahlin; Ahmedhodzic, Nielsen, Brorsson; Berget (86’), Rakip (86’), Innocent, Peña (58’), Rieks (57’); olak, Nanasi (74’).
- Subs: Olsson (57’), Lewicki (58’), Nalic (74’), Larsson (86’), Birmancevic (86’).
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Christensen, Silva, Rüdiger; Azpilicueta ©, Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Alonso; Ziyech (74’), Hudson-Odoi (74’); Havertz.
- Subs: Barkley (74’), Pulisic (74’).
Malmö (27%) vs Chelsea (73%).
Malmö (4) vs Chelsea (22).
Shots on target:
Malmö (0) vs Chelsea (11).
Malmö (1) vs Chelsea (8).
Malmö (12) vs Chelsea (9).
- (credit | BBC Sport).
- (credit | BT Sport).