Chelsea 1 Zenit 0: Romelu Lukaku grabs first Blues Champions League goal as Tuchel’s side make winning start to defence
ROMELU LUKAKU struck the blow which suggests Chelsea escape the embarrassment of falling flat on their large night time out as European champions.
The unstoppable new striker lastly broke the impasse with 21 minutes to go for his fourth goal in as many video games since re-signing in the summertime.
But it can’t masks a irritating night time for Chelsea who had hoped to sparkle beneath the lights and steamroller Russian cannon fodder to kick off the defence of their Champions League crown.
Lukaku’s headed winner was solely the second shot heading in the right direction for the staff all people desires to slap down in Europe this season.
The staff which claimed the most important prize in world membership soccer strolled out to fizz-popping fireworks and the assumption they might stroll to a simple win.
Instead, the followers had been handled to soccer’s equal of soppy rain falling on to the embers of a dying bonfire.
For boss Thomas Tuchel, who warned towards his staff getting complacent following their epic triumph in May, it was a troublesome night time.
It will not be uncommon to see a totally grown German man slapping his thighs and shouting on the prime of his voice.
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However, this was not Tuchel having fun with a conventional night time of leisure again in his homeland whereas wearing leather-based shorts.
This was Chelsea’s supervisor smacking his lengthy, spindly legs in frustration as his staff’s defence of the Champions League title fell approach in need of expectations.
With knee raised, arms waving, clapping above his head to attempt to drag some life out of his gamers, Chelsea’s spectacular start to the season hit the buffers.
What was supposed to be a large get together interspersed by a rollover match, the awkward Russians stood up to the beforehand ruthless Blues for greater than an hour.
In that point, solely waspish winger Hakim Ziyech managed to pierce the Zenit defence with a shot that was comfortably saved.
And it comes to one thing when centre-half Antonio Rudiger turns into probably the most potent attackers together with his loopy run three minutes later.
It was nearly as if the highly effective defender had seen sufficient and took issues into his personal palms.
Taking possession of the ball simply his side of the centre circle, Rudiger ploughed his approach upfield greater than 50 yards, with a dizzying dribble that appeared like Ronaldo.
Sadly, when it got here to doing the enterprise finish together with his eyes fastened on the Zenit goal, Rudiger reverted to kind and shot like Ronaldo’s mum from simply contained in the field to ship the ball extensive.
That form of sums up the night time Chelsea endured: by no means actually in hassle however by no means actually in management both.
Even although Tuchel recalled a few of his large weapons to add some sparkle to a fixture that struggled to get the juices flowing, regardless of the event.
Mason Mount beginning in any staff, whether or not for Chelsea or England, ought to make for a minimal degree of swashbuckle and attacking fashion.
But even the rakish ahead struggled to impose his particular person high quality on the sport for a sustained interval – at the least in the course of the first half.
Tuchel’s different devilish winger Kai Havertz, the man who scored the goal to win the Champions League for Chelsea, was rested nevertheless it was a just about first selection line-up apart from that.
Yet the Russians’ spectacular organisation, resoluteness in defence and shocking composure going forwards, made it a far much less snug night than it ought to have been on paper.
It is early days within the season on each the home and European fronts.
But having focused £97.5million of funding into formidable striker Lukaku, it’s already uncommon for them to endure a complete 45 minutes with out mustering a shot heading in the right direction.
The most notable threats from Tuchel’s champions within the first half had been forcing Zenit keeper Stanislav Kritsyuk into pawing away a few swerving balls as they drifted aimlessly on to his patch within the six-yard field.
Tuchel is not going to have loved what he noticed final night time however will clearly be happy that his staff bought off to a winning start in an extended marketing campaign.
He desires his gamers to have much more starvation than final season. He is demanding that winning the European Cup towards Manchester City doesn’t make them subconsciously sit again on their laurels.
It is one thing he’ll re-iterate to them tomorrow when the squad rocks up on the Surrey coaching floor for a heat down and a debrief.
Chelsea might solely handle two pictures heading in the right direction all night time towards the weakest staff of their group – and at residence.
Even Lukaku, who’s scoring for enjoyable for the time being, shot feebly extensive when put via within the dying minutes of the sport.