Football news - Callum Hudson-Odoi on target as Chelsea ease through
Europa League last 32 second leg, Stamford Bridge – Chelsea 3 (Giroud 55, Barkley 74, Hudson-Odoi 84) Malmo 0 – Chelsea win 5-1 on aggregate
Callum Hudson-Odoi scored as Chelsea breezed into the last 16 of the Europa League with a 3-0 win over ten-man Malmo, securing a 5-1 aggregate triumph.
With one eye on Sunday's Carabao Cup final against Manchester City, under-pressure Maurizio Sarri made seven changes from Monday night's dismal FA Cup defeat to Manchester United, with Hudson-Odoi handed a starting berth and Jorginho dropped to the bench.
After a jittery start full of mistakes and misplaced passes, Chelsea began to take control possession and broke the deadlock 10 minutes into the restart when Olivier Giroud netted his sixth goal of the competition.
Olivier Giroud of Chelsea celebrates after scoring his team's first goal with Antonio Ruediger of Chelsea during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 Second Leg match between Chelsea and Malmo FF at Stamford Bridge on February 21, 2019 in London, England.Getty Images
Malmo's task became more difficult when Rasmus Bengtsson was shown a second yellow card and Chelsea immediately made their numerical advantage pay, as Ross Barkley curled in a lovely strike from the resulting free-kick.
Hudson-Odoi, making his first start since a failed a move to Bayern Munich in January, then added gloss to the scoreline, to ease pressure on Sarri and his under-fire Chelsea charges.
TALKING POINT - Kante comes to life, as 'Sarri-ball' is revived
Much of the fall-out from Chelsea's dismal to United on Monday night focused on Sarri's refusal to play N'Golo Kante in his 'proper' position: the anchorman in midfield. Typically stubborn, the Italian persevered with Kante in an advanced role, with Mateo Kovacic taking up Jorginho's role as the holding midfielder.
N'Golo Kante of Chelsea and Fouad Bachirou of Malm FF during the Europa league match between Chelsea and Malm FF on February 21, 2019 in LondonReuters
And you know what? Kante was the driving force and the best player on the park. With his ability to win the ball in the centre, the 27-year-old created the opening goal with his blistering pace and vision - two qualities often overlooked in his game. Make no doubt, he is growing into this role.
The public outcry about Kante's position will rumble on, but Sarri will be understandably pleased with his midfield's showing, most notably Hudson-Odoi who did more than enough to stake his claim in Sunday's starting XI.
MAN OF THE MATCH - N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)
With Hudson-Odoi and Barkley excelling, there was plenty of pace and trickery in Chelsea's midfield tonight. Both players were excellent, but Kante was simply the key player for the Blues.
N'Golo Kante of Chelsea and Arnor Traustason of Malm FF during the Europa league match between Chelsea and Malm FF on February 21, 2019 in London.Reuters
14' - MALMO CHANCE! Malmo should be ahead! Hudson-Odoi takes a poor touch on the edge of the penalty area and the visitors pounce. Rosenberg, formerly of West Brom, takes aim from the edge of the box but his shot drifts just wide of Caballero's post.
55' - GOAL! - Chelsea 1-0 Malmo (aggregate 3-1): Chelsea have one foot in the last-16 of the Europa League! Kante pounces on a loose touch in midfield, sprints past two defenders and spreads it wide to Willian. He looks up and drifts a cross to the near post and Giroud converts, netting his sixth goal of the competition.
73' - RED CARD! Malmo's Bengtsson is shown his marching orders for a foul on Emerson - his second bookable offence.
74' - GOAL! Chelsea 2-0 Malmo (aggregate 4-1): Barkley whips the free-kick up and wall over the wall and the goalkeeper can't quite get there, as the ball nestles into the top corner. Great strike!
84' - GOAL! Chelsea 3-0 Malmo (aggregate 5-1): Hudson-Odoi scores! That's what the Chelsea fans wanted to see! Willian switches play to the flying-flanker, his beautiful first touch kills it and he drives into the box, burying a shot past Dahlin.
- Maurizio Sarri has won 28 of his first 43 games in charge of Chelsea in all competitions (D6 L9), one more than Pep Guardiola managed in his first 43 with Manchester City (W27 D9 L7).
- Callum Hudson-Odoi has been directly involved in six goals in his last six starts for Chelsea in all competitions (3 goals, 3 assists).
- Since the start of 2015-16, Chelsea have scored 20 direct free-kick goals in all competitions, six more than any other Premier League side in that time.
- Olivier Giroud has scored in each of his last five appearances in this season's Europa League, netting six goals in total.
- Chelsea have won each of their last seven Europa League home games, scoring at least three goals in six of those matches.