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Chelsea resounding return to Champions League

Chelsea resounding return to Champions League

Davide Zappacosta scored a wonder goal on his full debut as Chelsea made a resounding return to the Champions League with a 6-0 win against Azerbaijani champions Qarabag at Stamford Bridge.

Zappacosta beat goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic with a spinning cross-shot from almost on the touchline to put Antonio Conte’s team two up following Pedro’s fifth-minute 20-yard strike.

Antonio Conte lauded a perfect Champions League return for Chelsea after their 6-0 rout of Qarabag

Antonio Conte lauded a perfect Champions League return for Chelsea after their 6-0 rout of Qarabag

Cesar Azpilicueta headed a third early in the second half, before a first Chelsea goal from Tiemoue Bakayoko and a brace from Michy Batshuayi saw Conte’s side blitz Qarabag with three strikes in 11 minutes.

The tournament debutants from Azerbaijan rarely looked like troubling Thibaut Courtois in the home goal, with South African centre-forward Dino Ndlovu limited to speculative efforts from distance as the hosts cruised to a comfortable opening-day victory in Group B.

Chelsea: Courtois (6), Azpilicueta (7), Christensen (6), Cahill (6), Zappacosta (8), Kante (8), Fabregas (7), Alonso (7), Willian (9), Batshuayi (8), Pedro (8)

Subs: Bakayoko (7), Hazard (7), Rudiger (6)


Qarabag: Sehic (5), Medvedev (5), Sadigov (5), Rzezniczak (4), Huseynov (5), Garayev (4), Michel (4), Henrique (7), Almeida de Oliveira (6), Guerrier (6), Dino (5)

Subs: Diniyev (5), Madatov (6), Elyounoussi (5)


Man of the match: Willian

In what was always likely to be Conte’s side’s most straightforward group-stage assignment they were ahead inside five minutes, Willian being given space to meander in-field from a short corner and pick out Pedro who clipped a neat finish inside Sehic’s near post.

Qarabag never looked comfortable in their shape on their Champions League bow but it was a moment of individual brilliance from Zappacosta which brought the second goal, firing the ball in from the touchline after a driving run with Sehic expecting a cross.

The visitors stood off Cesc Fabregas from a Willian quick free kick for Chelsea’s third, allowing the Spaniard to stand the ball up for Azpilicueta to nod a simple header into the corner as Gurban Gurbanov’s side withered under the onslaught.

Former Birmingham City midfielder Michel misjudged a cross with 20 minutes to go, cushioning the ball into the path of Bakayoko to slam in his first Chelsea goal via a deflection, and Qarabag continued to afford Chelsea acres of space when Batshuayi, in the side in place of Alvaro Morata, strolled through to plant a fine drive into Sehic’s bottom corner.

Team news

Hazard started on the bench for Chelsea, whilst there was still no involvement for the injured Drinkwater.South African Ndlovu started for Qarabag.

Polish full-back Jakub Rzezniczak dwelt on the ball in the corner to allow a grateful Zappacosta to steal possession and deliver a low cross for Batshuayi to grab his second and Chelsea’s sixth, as the Belgian made the most of a rare start as Morata watched from the bench.Chelsea resounding return to Champions League

Ndlovu tried in vain to cut the deficit when he fired over Courtois’ cross bar from 18 yards in the closing stages, but Qarabag were out of their depth as Chelsea warmed up for stiffer tests in Group B against Roma and Atletico Madrid.

Opta stats

This was Chelsea’s joint-biggest win in the Champions League (6-0 vs Maribor in October 2014).

Qarabag managed just five touches in Chelsea’s penalty area tonight – three Chelsea players managed as many in the Azerbaijani sides box (Alonso 6, Batshuayi and Zappacosta 5).

Davide Zappacosta became the 100th Italian player to score a Champions League goal (excluding own goals).

Thibaut Courtois’ assist for Zappacosta’s strike was the first by a keeper in the Champions League since Fraser Forster set up Tony Watt for Celtic against Barcelona in November 2012.

The manager

Antonio Conte: “I saw the right commitment from my players from the start of the game. I’m pleased with a great performance from my players. I think a lot of positive things for us. Batshuayi to score, Zappacosta’s first appearance here at Stamford Bridge, he played very well. He’s trying to find the best form. A lot of positive things.”

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