Match Report: Chelsea book place in Champions League Round of 16 with 4-0 win from Qarabag
Chelsea booked their place in the Champions League Round of 16 with a comfortable 4-0 victory over ten-man FK Qarabag on Wednesday evening. Goals from Eden Hazard, Willian (2) and Cesc Fabregas sealed the deal for the Blues as Qarabag’s exit from the competiton is now certain.
Antonio Conte made some crucial changes to his Chelsea line-up, leaving Andreas Christensen, Gary Cahill and Alvaro Morata to the bench as the Italian looked to give his key players a rest ahead of Saturday’s vital Premier League clash against Liverpool.
The first big chance of the game fell for the hosts, as Michel hit the bar after 13 minutes of play. Chelsea woke up after that though, and were awarded a penalty seven minutes later.
Hazard played a brilliant ball through for Willian, who darted forward but was dragged down by Rashad Sadygov. The Qarabag skipper was sent off (quite harshly, really), and Chelsea were awarded an early spot kick and a man’s advantage for the rest of the game. Hazard kept his cool and slotted the penalty home, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Following the red card Chelsea started to take full control of the game, and added their second with some style! Cesc Fabregas, Pedro and Hazard were all involved in the build-up as Willian got his name onto the score-sheet on his 200th appearance for the club. After a simple one-two between Hazard and the Brazilian, the Belgian went on to back-heel one more pass for his team-mate in an open space for him to slot in a calm finish.
The first half came to its close in Chelsea’s comfortable 2-0 lead.
Conte turned to a much more defensive formation on the second period to see out the two-goal lead. Marcos Alonso was handed a rest as Cahill came on from the bench already before an hour of play. Cesar Azpilicueta was thus moved onto the left wing-back’s position with Cahill taking the Spaniard’s place in the back-three.
Hazard was also called up to the bench on the 64th minute, with Morata replacing the Belgian after yet another game winning display.
The Spaniard had a great chance right away to extend Chelsea’s lead to three, but he directed his one-on-one chance inches past the post.
Fabregas did the job for him soon after though, as Willian earned the Blues yet another penalty 15 minutes before the end of the tie. Fabregas had to retake his first effort but buried the second with style, becoming the fourth Spanish player to score 20+ goals in the European Elite competition.
The three points were by now all in the bag, but Willian wasn’t done yet. The Brazilian cut to his right while running towards the goal, and rifled a thunderous strike from the edge of the area to the back of the net. The 29-year-old had a hand in each Chelsea goal tonight, and was deservedly named as the man of the match.
The full-time whistle was blown, and Chelsea had booked their place in the Champions League’s Round of 16. Next up, Liverpool. COME ON CHELSEA!