Chelsea 1-0 Zenit: Romelu Lukaku gives Blues win in Champions League

1 week ago 12
Lukaku's header was his first ever goal for Chelsea in the Champions LeagueLukaku's header was his first ever goal for Chelsea in the Champions League

Chelsea opened their defence of the Champions League with a victory as Romelu Lukaku finally pierced Zenit St Petersburg's stubborn resistance at Stamford Bridge.

Lukaku, a £97.5m summer signing from Inter Milan, has already demonstrated his goal threat in the Premier League and was on the mark again with his first goal for Chelsea in the competition they won for the second time against Manchester City in June.

Chelsea were made to work hard as Zenit dug in but manager Thomas Tuchel's side stepped up the pace after the interval, Lukaku breaking the deadlock when he headed in at the far post from Cesar Azpilicueta's cross in the 69th minute.

The holders deserved the victory but Zenit missed a glorious chance to snatch a point when substitute Artem Dzyuba slid wide from six yards as he tried to turn in Sardar Azmoun's cross late on.

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Chelsea made to work for win

Chelsea's victory was not a surprise given their status as Champions League holders and their impressive start to the season but this showed they are more than willing to do the dirty work to get the job done when required.

And it was Lukaku, the talisman, who showed once again what a difference he will make to Chelsea by providing the cutting edge they often lacked last season, even though they won Europe's elite competition in Porto.

Lukaku's chances were limited as Zenit defended well and with real resilience but he pounced on the first opportunity he was given to score with a towering header.

Chelsea struggled to make any impression in the first half but it was clear Tuchel had ordered his players to move through the gears and they were much more forceful after the break.

If Lukaku is the main man in attack, it was defender Antonio Rudiger who set the tone at both ends to lift the Chelsea fans inside Stamford Bridge.

Rudiger lifted the noise levels with a surging run from inside his own half which ended with a shot that flashed just wide. He then made a vital challenge at the other end as Zenit's Iranian forward Azmoun threatened to give the visitors a shock lead, celebrating his interception with a fist pump to the crowd who appreciate the German's uncompromising style.

It was not Chelsea at their most impressive but, as they did against Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday, this is now a side that is almost the complete package. They are a side who find a way to win and Tuchel will be delighted to get three points on the board in the Champions League, especially as the other European superpower in Group H, Juventus, started their campaign with an impressive 3-0 win against Malmo in Sweden.

Tuchel will know there is much more to come from a Chelsea side tipped for success at home and abroad this season and he will be more than satisfied to start with three points.

Player of the match

LukakuRomelu Lukaku

with an average of 8.30

Chelsea

Squad number9Player nameLukaku

Squad number2Player nameRüdiger

Squad number8Player nameKovacic

Squad number28Player nameAzpilicueta

Squad number29Player nameHavertz

Squad number4Player nameChristensen

Squad number16Player nameMendy

Squad number5Player nameJorginho

Squad number24Player nameJames

Squad number3Player nameAlonso

Squad number6Player nameThiago Silva

Squad number21Player nameChilwell

Squad number22Player nameZiyech

Squad number19Player nameMount

Squad number12Player nameLoftus-Cheek

Zenit St Petersburg

Squad number3Player nameDouglas Santos

Squad number2Player nameChistyakov

Squad number44Player nameRakitskiy

Squad number10Player nameMalcom

Squad number7Player nameAzmoun

Squad number5Player nameBarrios

Squad number19Player nameSutormin

Squad number22Player nameDzyuba

Squad number64Player nameKravtsov

Squad number8Player nameWendel

Squad number11Player nameClaudinho

Squad number21Player nameErokhin

Squad number1Player nameKritsyuk

Squad number14Player nameKuzyaev

Squad number4Player nameKrugovoy

Squad number17Player nameMostovoy

Line-ups

Chelsea

Formation 3-4-2-1

16Mendy28AzpilicuetaBooked at 45minsSubstituted forThiago Silvaat 83'minutes4Christensen2Rüdiger24James8Kovacic5Jorginho3AlonsoSubstituted forChilwellat 83'minutes19MountSubstituted forLoftus-Cheekat 90+3'minutes22ZiyechSubstituted forHavertzat 63'minutes9Lukaku

Substitutes

1Arrizabalaga6Thiago Silva11Werner12Loftus-Cheek14Chalobah17Saúl18Barkley20Hudson-Odoi21Chilwell29Havertz31Sarr36Bergstrom

Zenit St Petersburg

Formation 5-4-1

1Kritsyuk19Sutormin5Barrios2Chistyakov44RakitskiyBooked at 62minsSubstituted forKrugovoyat 88'minutes3dos Santos Justino de Melo10MalcomSubstituted forDzyubaat 75'minutes8Valle da SilvaSubstituted forErokhinat 76'minutes14KuzyaevSubstituted forKravtsovat 82'minutes11Rodrigues Parisi LeonelSubstituted forMostovoyat 88'minutes7Azmoun

Substitutes

4Krugovoy17Mostovoy21Erokhin22Dzyuba41Kerzhakov64Kravtsov71Odoevskiy94Khotulev

Referee:Bartosz Frankowski

Live Text

Match ends, Chelsea 1, Zenit St Petersburg 0.

Second Half ends, Chelsea 1, Zenit St Petersburg 0.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Douglas Santos.

Attempt blocked. Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Mateo Kovacic.

Foul by Reece James (Chelsea).

Artem Dzyuba (Zenit St Petersburg) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Chelsea. Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaces Mason Mount.

Substitution, Zenit St Petersburg. Daniil Krugovoy replaces Yaroslav Rakitskiy.

Substitution, Zenit St Petersburg. Andrey Mostovoy replaces Claudinho.

Substitution, Chelsea. Ben Chilwell replaces Marcos Alonso.

Substitution, Chelsea. Thiago Silva replaces César Azpilicueta.

Substitution, Zenit St Petersburg. Kirill Kravtsov replaces Daler Kuzyaev.

Attempt missed. Artem Dzyuba (Zenit St Petersburg) left footed shot from very close range misses to the left. Assisted by Sardar Azmoun.

Attempt missed. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Mason Mount.

Foul by Mason Mount (Chelsea).

Daler Kuzyaev (Zenit St Petersburg) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Daler Kuzyaev (Zenit St Petersburg).

Substitution, Zenit St Petersburg. Aleksandr Erokhin replaces Wendel.

Substitution, Zenit St Petersburg. Artem Dzyuba replaces Malcom.

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