Chelsea made hard work of their second Europa League game of the campaign, narrowly beating Hungarian side Vidi at Stamford Bridge.
The goal came from Alvaro Morata who not only struggled to score in the match before breaking the deadlock but who has also failed to impress in the Premier League this term.
Struggle to find a breakthrough
The headline of the team news was Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s first start for Chelsea since the beginning of 2017 against Brentford in the FA Cup. That was about as interesting as the beginning of the game was with Vidi standing tall against wave after wave of tame Chelsea attacks.
Emerson Palmieri should’ve done better when he made his way through the visiting defence but he failed to keep his shot down. Then, Morata only had the goalkeeper to beat with a chance but as it looked as though he had scored the opener, he somehow poked his effort wide when faced with just Tomáš Tujvel under no pressure.
It took until almost 25 minutes for the first shot on target but Pedro’s shot from range didn’t test the opponent keeper at all. Loftus-Cheek was very unlucky not to get a penalty out of one of the five match officials as he was rugby tackled after dancing into the box, further supporting the fact that the referees behind the goal are largely pointless in European games.
A goal at last
The second-half started in a way that Maurizio Sarri definitely wouldn’t have wanted as Vidi striker, Nego fired a shot across Kepa Arrizabalaga’s goal but the Spanish stopper was equal to it after doing nothing for 45 minutes. It began to get quite desperate from Chelsea at that point and for the succeeding 20 minutes, the hosts wastefully pumped long balls up towards Morata, failing to create chances of any sort.
Ross Barkley came off the bench and looked to have injected a vital dose of life into his side. Less than five minutes after he came on, the Blues went in front and ironically, it was Morata who opened the scoring. Cesc Fabregas lofted a weighted pass into the penalty area which was flicked on by Willian towards the Spanish striker who made no mistake in directing it past the helpless visiting keeper.
Barkley then nodded Eden Hazard’s whipped free-kick onto the crossbar when it seemed destined for the top corner as the English side asserted their dominance. However, complacency may have kicked in as Vidi almost stole an equaliser. István Kovács burst into the box and sent a shot towards the bottom corner but Kepa made a vital save before Victor Moses hooked clear.
The game finished 1-0 to Chelsea in the end but it should have been more convincing with the hosts enjoying most of the possession as well as over 20 shots. They look ahead to a trip to Southampton on Sunday afternoon looking to get back to winning ways.