A late winner from Michy Batshuayi ensured that Chelsea left the Wanda Metropolitano with a well deserved victory and all 3 points against Atletico Madrid.
The Blues started off the game in fine fashion. They saw much more of the ball than the hosts, with Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata were combining well and the Belgian even hit the post. Tiemoue Bakayoko and N’Golo Kante were resolute in midfield and Chelsea were quite easily the better team. That is, until the 39th minute.
Then, in what can only be termed as ‘lazy’ defending, David Luiz brought down Lucas Hernandez in the box with a tug of his shirt. Antoine Griezmann stepped up to take the penalty and subsequently smashed it right down the centre of Thibaut Courtois’ goal to give the hosts the lead.
The score stayed the same going into the break. After the restart, Chelsea continued exactly where they left off and continued to dominate. Just under the hour mark, Hazard whipped in a cross from the left and Morata headed it past Oblak to send the Blues level.
Half chances came and went for the Blues, as did their substitutions. Michy Batshuayi, Willian and Andreas Christensen were brought on late in the game. Then in the 90th minute, Marcos Alonso, Kante and Bakayoko combined brilliantly to find Batshuayi, and he tapped the ball in from 5 yards out.
Atletico will be disappointed to have not gotten off to a winning start in Europe in their new stadium. Barring Luiz’s lapse in concentration, the Blues were near faultless throughout the game. This victory was nothing less than they deserve and they now find themselves at the top of Group C.
Thibaut Courtois: 7
Will likely be thinking he could’ve done better with the penalty. Besides that and a nervous parry straight onto the path of an onrushing Saul, he didn’t put a foot wrong the entire night. Composed and calm with collection and distribution, it was a great return to a place he once called home.
Gary Cahill: 7
Dealt well with Griezmann on the night and was a resolute figure on the left side of Chelsea’s defence. A very level-headed display from the Chelsea captain, one that should help win some of his critics over. Looked sharp and made some good passes.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 8
Another assuring shift from the Spaniard for Chelsea. Azpilicueta was once against at his dependable best, sniffing out any danger with his good reading of the game. Dealt with everything thrown at him well, and provided great cover for Victor Moses. Nearly got an assist, but Morata couldn’t get on the end of a beautiful diagonal pass.
David Luiz: 6
A ridiculous tug of Lucas Hernandez’s shirt gifted Atletico the first goal of the game, much against the run of play. Otherwise the Brazilian had a good game and dealt with Atleti’s attack well. He made some good clearances, passed well and played a role in the equaliser, by playing a cross field pass to Hazard.
Marcos Alonso: 8
Created the the winner for Batshuayi by combining beautifully with Kante and Bakayoko. Didn’t really do anything noteworthy going forward prior to that, as he was pretty occupied defensively for most of the game. A good defensive performance, he did not let his lack of pace be exploited.
Victor Moses: 7
A constant attacking threat, Moses kept running down the right flank and he contributed defensively as well. Got himself into good goalscoring positions and always found space to run into. No costly errors from his part and put in an extremely good shift in his first European game since 2013.
Cesc Fabregas: 6
Wasn’t able to pull the strings in midfield as much as he would have liked, but he put in a disciplined shift. His passing wasn’t at it’s optimal best, neither was his set piece delivery. Fabregas tried to be more mobile and perform his defensive duties, but he also missed an easy chance to get his name on the score sheet.
N’Golo Kante: 8
“N’Golo Kante will be exposed in Europe”
4 take ons
87% pass accuracy pic.twitter.com/UegEJq0c5S
— Talk Chelsea 🏆 (@talkchelsea) September 27, 2017
With due respect to Qarabag FK, this was N’Golo Kante’s first match in Europe against a world class opposition and the Frenchman wasn’t fazed by it one bit. He seemed to be all over the place and Atletico couldn’t keep up with his tireless running all over the pitch.
He got a number of important tackles in and his ever improving ability on the ball was clear to see, as he switched from attack to defence in a matter of seconds and showed off his ability to carry the ball forward. Helped set up Chelsea’s third with some great combination play.
Tiemoue Bakayoko: 8
Tiémoué Bakayoko won all five of his tackles against Atletico Madrid. Only one player won more tackles than him in the CL tonight. pic.twitter.com/Zm2Rjnuwus
— ReviewFootball (@ReviewFootball) September 27, 2017
Alongside N’Golo Kante, Chelsea’s summer signing produced yet another positive display in the middle of the park. Bakayoko looked a bit shaky as the game went by and he made one glaring error that didn’t prove to be too costly as Atletico couldn’t capitalise.
However, he was a sturdy presence throughout and the Atletico midfield just couldn’t deal with his physicality and work rate. His passing was a bit off, but the Frenchman played a vital role in Chelsea’s winner with a super flick to Alonso. Extremely promising talent.
Eden Hazard: 9
Eden Hazard’s game by numbers vs. Atletico:
7 chances created
A constant threat. ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/s7W1RY4II2
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 27, 2017
Arguably Chelsea’s best player on the night. The Belgian took the game right to Atleti from the very beginning and ran them ragged. Flourishing in this new ‘free role’ upfront which allows him to drift into space in a bid to create chances.
Was unlucky to not get on the scoresheet with an early effort that rattled Oblak’s post. Having spent most of the season on the sidelines due to injury, Antonio Conte will be undoubtedly pleased to have his best player back to his very best. Takes the Blues to another level.
Alvaro Morata: 8
7 – Alvaro Morata has scored seven goals from just ten shots on target in all competitions this season. Arrow.
— OptaChelsea (@OptaChels) September 27, 2017
Near faultless throughout the night, Morata worked tirelessly upfront and tried to make the most of his chances. He was a constant thorn in the heart of the Atletico defence and his hard work was duly rewarded with a goal, his first against Atletico and the first scored by an opposition player at the Wanda Metropolitano.
His link up play with Eden Hazard was fantastic to watch and it gave the hosts a torrid time. It showed all the signs of a great attacking partnership. Got on the end of the Belgian’s cross to score a typically superb header to bring his side back into the game.
Michy Batshuayi (On for Alvaro Morata) : 7
Michy Batshuayi has scored a goal once every 74.8 minutes since joining Chelsea.
1047 minutes ⏱
14 goals ⚽
The match winner once again. pic.twitter.com/7DzXGdKkXg
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 27, 2017
Did little to have an impact on the game and barely had a touch, before scoring the winner with the last kick of the game. Found himself in the right place at the right time at the end of a superb Chelsea move. That goal should do wonders for his confidence.