Chelsea drew 1-1 with Krasnodar in a Champions League match with little riding on it after Jorginho drew them level from the penalty spot.
Frank Lampard made 10 changes from the team that beat Leeds on Saturday, and this version of Chelsea never looked as fluid. When Krasnodar took the lead, on 24 minutes, it was not undeserved.
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After Cristian Ramirez burst forward down the left, he picked out Viktor Claesson who in turn helped the ball on to Remy Cabella, in space in the Chelsea box, who fired a low shot home.
The lead lasted just four minutes though, as Tammy Abraham was soon pulled back as he turned to shoot in the visitors’ box. Jorginho converted the resulting penalty with a trademark skip.
Tammy Abraham had Chelsea’s best chance to win it, seizing on a Ramirez mistake to run through on goal, but Yevgeni Gorodov denied the striker with his legs.
Billy Gilmour was making his first Chelsea start since July, while fellow 19-year-old Tino Anjorin made his first senior start. Gilmour was sharp in central midfield and among the Blues’ brighter spots, while Anjorin was unspectacular but not overmatched.
Chelsea knew before kick-off that they would finish top of Group E, while Krasnodar end up third and will enter the Europa League at the round-of-32 stage.
Chelsea’s squad players fail to give Lampard any selection headaches. The Chelsea boss made 10 changes, giving plenty of players who have been short of minutes in the Premier League a chance to impress, and while it was by no means a terrible display from the team, there were few standout performers. The fact that Havertz - the one starter to keep his place from the Leeds game - was frequently involved in Chelsea’s best attacking play and looked the sharpest player on the home team, was also telling.
Even with a select few fans back in Stamford Bridge, it was not an easy game to get up for. It was a dead rubber on a cold night. You’d be hard-pressed to argue that this display represented a worrying lack of depth for Chelsea. But, following the big outlay in the transfer market over the summer, Chelsea’s strength in depth has been hailed and many have made the case that, on paper, they now possess the strongest squad in the Premier League.
But on this evidence, Chelsea’s squad may not be as strong as had been assumed, and the drop-off from the starters to the back-ups more pronounced than Lampard would hope. With a busy Christmas scheduled coming up, he is likely to have to call on many of these players, so will hope to get more out of them than the did tonight. If Lampard is not making 10 changes for those games, said players may well find it easier to perform.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Billy Gilmour (Chelsea). On a night where the result would ultimately be irrelevant, seeing Gilmour play 90 minutes will be what was most satisfying for Lampard. Gilmour was sharp on the ball and hard-working without it - making one particularly important interception is his own box early on - and of the new faces in the Chelsea side probably gave his manager the most to think about. This was another reminder that Gilmour’s future looks very bright, but he can also contribute right now.
16’ - CHANCE! Claesson plays a one-two with Cabella to create a shooting opportunity, 12 yards out, but then slices wide on his weaker foot.
24’ - GOAL! Chelsea 0-1 Krasnodar (Cabella). Krasnodar lead! It's a well-worked goal in fairness. A booming cross-field ball puts Ramirez in on the left, his cutback is helped on to Cabella by Claesson and the Frenchman shoots low past Kepa and into the corner.
26’ - PENALTY! Kovacic plays a clever ball for Abraham, who has turned his defender, and a panicked Kaoi pulls him down before Abraham has an opportunity to shoot. Definite penalty.
28’ - GOAL! Chelsea 1-1 Krasnodar (Jorginho pen). With his trademark skip, Jorginho sends the goalkeeper the wrong way and levels things up.
67’ - CHANCE! Abraham is gifted a chance but cannot capitalise! Ramirez loses control of the ball in his own box, Abraham steals possession and has a close-range opportunity, but Gorodov closes the angle down and saves with his legs.
Chelsea: Kepa 6, Azpilicueta 6, Rudiger 6, Christensen 6, Emerson 5, Kovacic 5, Jorginho 6, Gilmour 7, Anjorin 5, Abraham 5, Havertz 7. Subs: Werner 6, Kante 6, Giroud 6.
Krasnodar: Gorodov 7, Smolnikov 7, Martynovich 6, Ramirez 5, Claesson 6, Cabella 7, Vilhena 6, Olsson 6, Kaoi 5, Wanderson 6, Berg 5. Subs: Sorkin 5, Chernov 5, Markov 5, Kambolov 5, Suleymanov 5.
- Chelsea are 14 games unbeaten in all competitions.
- This is the first time Chelsea have failed to beat a Russian team in the Champions League, having won their previous five matches against Russian opposition.
- A win would have given Chelsea their best-ever points tally at the end of a Champions League group stage. Instead, with 14, they are one short of their tally from the 2010/11 season.
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