Chelsea cruised to what was eventually a very comfortable 3-0 UEFA Champions League victory over AC Milan at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, their first European win this season.
Wesley Fofana put Chelsea ahead in the first half before his night ended prematurely through injury, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Reece James adding the second and third goals.
Early on, a confident Milan barely looked the part of the visitors, although it was Mason Mount who had the best chance when he sent Cipriano Tatarusana sprawling low to the left to deflect a shot into the bottom corner.
A flurry of Chelsea set pieces midway through the first half brought the visitors another good chance, but Thiago Silva’s header equalized for Tatarusanu.
However, it was clear that this could be the way to go for Chelsea and indeed it led to a goal when Silva got his head to another delivery moments later. This time Tatarusanu could only weakly parry the ball back into danger and Fofana was happy to pounce on the rebound for a header.
Mount had the ball in the net on the half-hour mark, cleverly lifting the ball past Tatarusana, but the Chelsea player was offside when he shot through.
Despite dominating, the fragility of the 1-0 lead showed when Rade Krunic blazed a wonderful Milan chance over the bar in first-half stoppage time. It was similar to Chelsea’s rebound play after a weak rebound, but Krunic didn’t have Fofan’s accuracy or composure.
Milan’s early promise fizzled out pretty badly in the end, and Chelsea’s second goal early in the second half was the result of a pretty woeful attempt at defending. Fode Ballo-Toure got in to close down James’ cross from the right, while Fikayo Tomori completely misjudged things to allow Aubameyang to finish easily from close range.
Milan’s collapse signaled Chelsea’s third. The Rossoneri were all over the place as Chelsea moved the ball quickly and Raheem Sterling fed the advancing James on the right side of the box. His finish was clinical, albeit a poor one from Tatarusan.
Both managers made the maximum number of changes which ultimately slowed down and killed any chance of rhythm to the game. This probably suited Chelsea in the end as it allowed them to sit on their lead. Milan, he knew the result was done, basically committed.
1. Chelsea (3-4-3)
GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga – 5/10 – Didn’t have to do that much but should have done better with a poor parry when it was only 1-0.
CB: Wesley Fofana – 6/10 – Turned poacher in the opposite penalty area for his first Chelsea goal. But his night ended in the first half due to injury.
CB: Thiago Silva – 8/10 – Commanding at the back and a real danger from attacking set-pieces. A big night against his former club.
CB: Kalidou Kouliably – 6/10 – In for his first minutes under Potter. Important that he got a chance in a comfortable setting.
RM: Reece James – 8/10 – Supremely technically gifted and comes away with a goal and assist. Leao also caused no problems.
CM: Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 7/10 – Did a good job on both sides of the ball, highlighting just hos bad Milan were. Also gets the assist for the opener.
CM: Mateo Kovacic – 6/10 – Will face much tougher challenges than this.
LM: Ben Chilwell – 6/10 – Overshadowed by James on the opposite flank but put in a commendable performance.
RF: Raheem Sterling – 7/10 – Fouled a few times but worked hard for the win. Got his reward with a measure assist for the third goal.
ST: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 7/10 – Scored for the second time in a matter of days, showing just what he can offer this team.
LF: Mason Mount – 7/10 – Found the net but was correctly flagged offside and generally posed a threat.
SUB: Trevoh Chalobah – (38′ for Fofana) – 6/10
SUB: Conor Gallagher (65′ for Aubameyang) – 7/10
SUB: Jorginho (66′ for Kovacic) – 6/10
SUB: Kai Havertz (74′ for Mount) – 6/10
SUB: Armando Broja (75′ for Sterling) – 6/10
Manager: Graham Potter – 7/10 – Made a few changes from the weekend, but his job was more straightforward because of how disappointing Milan were.
2. AC Milan (4-2-3-1)
RB: Sergino Dest – 3/10 – Easy to forget he was even on the pitch. Struggled to cope with Mount.
CB: Pierre Kalulu – 5/10 – It wasn’t a high bar by any stretch of the imagination, but he was Milan’s best defender.
CB: Fikayo Tomori – 4/10 – Didn’t cover himself in glory when he was hoping to prove a point against his former club. At fault for the second goal.
LB: Fode Ballo-Toure – 3/10 – Very poor attempt at defending for Chelsea’s killer second goal. The third also came down his side.
CM: Ismael Bennacer (c) – 3/10 – Questions should be asked of his poor marking at multiple set-pieces. Really struggled generally.
CM: Sandro Tonali – 4/10 – Sat very deep; probably too deep.
RM: Rade Krunic – 5/10 – Booked mere minutes into the game. Should have equalised in first half stoppage time.
AM: Charles De Ketelaere – 5/10 – Saw a decent attempt saved in first half stoppage time but it was his only real involvement.
LM: Rafael Leao – 5/10 – Came into this game with major expectations on his shoulders and didn’t live up to it beyond some early flashes.
ST: Olivier Giroud – 4/10 – Completely starved of service. At least he got a nice reception from the Stamford Bridge crowd.
SUB: Ante Rebic (65′ for De Ketelaere) – 5/10
SUB: Matteo Gabbia (65′ for Krunic) – 5/10
SUB: Brahim Diaz (72′ for Leao) – 5/10
SUB: Divock Origi (73′ for Giroud) – 5/10
SUB: Tommaso Pobega (73′ for Bennacer) – 5/10
Manager: Stefano Pioli – 5/10 – His team started with some brightness but that disappeared and by the second half they appeared to have given up. He couldn’t change that and substitutions came too late.