25th of October 2018

Three points bagged as Blues beat BATE in UEL (3-1)

A hat-trick from Ruben Loftus-Cheek did the damage as we made it three wins from three in the Europa League on an enjoyable evening at Stamford Bridge.

The 22-year-old Academy product struck twice inside the opening eight minutes with predatory finishes that the watching Frank Lampard would have been proud of.

A dominant force in our midfield, Loftus-Cheek was a constant threat to the BATE Borisov backline and he registered his third goal of the night, and fifth of his Chelsea career, with a curling effort from outside the box shortly after half-time.

Despite enjoying the vast majority of possession and almost all the chances, it was our visitors from Belarus who had the final word, netting a late consolation.

So a 13th game unbeaten this season and a perfect start to our European campaign. Next up is a trip to Burnley on Sunday as the domestic action returns.

It was a much-changed team from the one that started against Manchester United at the weekend, with an entirely different back four and positions in midfield for Cesc Fabregas and Loftus-Cheek. Olivier Giroud was tasked with spearheading the attack, and either side of him were Pedro and Willian, the latter making his 250th Chelsea appearance.

It took us 70 minutes to break the deadlock in our last Europa League home game, against Vidi, but tonight barely 70 seconds had elapsed when Loftus-Cheek thumped us ahead.

It owed much to the industry of Davide Zappacosta down the right. At the end of a trademark driving run, the Italian crossed low towards the penalty spot, where Loftus-Cheek arrived bang on cue to emphatically finish first time. One minute and 43 seconds had been played.

Our previous two games in this competition had been decided by a single goal, but that would not be the case tonight.

After Willian had seen a shot deflected a fraction wide, Zappacosta won a corner out of nothing from which we doubled our lead. Willian’s delivery was not high but it was well aimed, and again Loftus-Cheek was in the right place at the right time, guiding a volley into the far corner. A brace inside nine minutes - not a bad way to mark your return to the team!

Pedro was the next to try his luck against opponents still content to put 10 behind the ball. Then captain Gary Cahill got his head to a Willian corner, glanced goalwards where his centre-back partner Andreas Christensen couldn’t quite turn it in from a yard out.

There was no sign of the pressure abating as the Blues continued to pour forward. The ball wouldn’t quite drop for Mateo Kovacic in the six-yard box from Willian’s cross, and the Brazilian then skewed an effort of his own wide after Loftus-Cheek’s power and physical presence had caused more problems in the BATE box.

On 40 minutes, our homegrown midfielder came close to completing his hat-trick with a downward header into the ground from Zappacosta’s cushioned cross. It skidded wide.

A half played almost entirely in BATE’s defensive third ended spectacularly, with a Willian scissor kick almost reaching the very back row of the Shed Upper!

Play restarted and before long the Stamford Bridge crowd was rising to its feet once more to acclaim Loftus-Cheek. His third goal of a memorable evening might have been stopped by Denis Scherbitski in the BATE goal, but the pace on his 20-yard effort was too hot to handle, bouncing into the net off the inside of the right-hand post. Cesc Fabregas lifted his beaming midfield partner aloft.

Scherbitski did much better to keep out powerful rising drives from Willian and Zappacosta respectively as the Blues chased a fourth. Between those efforts, Victor Moses and Callum Hudson-Odoi came on for Willian and Pedro.

Giroud nearly got the goal his performance up front deserved with a quarter-hour remaining, but after turning his marker he saw Scherbitski get a very strong right hand to his powerful half-volley to expertly claw it away.

Kepa in our goal had had very little to do, but he did make one good save from an offside shot before BATE surprisingly netted, much to Maurizio Sarri’s frustration on the touchline. Igor Stasevich’s free-kick from wide on the left eluded a congested six-yard box and found Aleksei Rios unmarked at the far post. He couldn’t miss.

Loftus-Cheek sought to take matters into his own hands with another driving run from midfield, but after skipping past a couple of challenges the sprawling Scherbitski denied him and us a fourth goal.

It mattered not. The night remained Loftus-Cheek’s.



- Match stats:

Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa; Zappacosta, Christensen, Cahill (c), Emerson; Loftus-Cheek, Fabregas, Kovacic (Kante 78); Willian (Moses 57), Giroud, Pedro (Hudson-Odoi 60).

Scorer Loftus-Cheek 2, 8, 53

BATE Borisov (4-5-1): Scherbitski; Rios, Filipovic, Filipenko, Volodko; Baga (Yablonski 76), Dragun, Hleb (Ivanic 59), Skavysh, Stasevich (c); Signevich (Tuominen 71).

Scorer Rios 79

Booked Hleb 34

Referee Paolo Mazzoleni

Crowd 39,799

- Match report by chelseafc.com


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