Pedro’s equalizer on the cusp of half-time gives Chelsea the advantage heading into the second leg of their Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Chelsea came from being a goal down to salvage a 1-1 draw against Bundesliga high-flyers Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their 2018-19 UEFA Europa League semi-final tie at the Commerzbank-Arena on Thursday night.
Maurizio Sarri’s side started off slowly and it was the home team that had the first big chance of the game when David Abraham volleyed over the bar from a tight angle. Soon after though, Eintracht had the lead as leading goalscorer Luka Jovic applied the finishing touches to a Filip Kostic cross with a diving header in the 23rd minute.
Chelsea were woken up by the goal as they started to threaten the Eagles’ defence, with Pedro’s effort just inching wide close to the half-hour mark. However, the Spaniard found the back of the net seconds before half-time, with a fine effort that beat Kevin Trapp, after some neat work by David Luiz and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Chelsea asserted their dominance post the half-time break and had multiple chances to clinch a victory with Loftus-Cheek coming close on a couple of occasions, only to be denied by Trapp, while Luiz struck the woodwork from a free-kick. Abraham had an opportunity against the run of play to fire Eintracht to a win late on, but he sent his header over the bar as stalemate ensued.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 2, 2019
The 1-1 draw gives Chelsea the advantage heading into the second leg thanks to the priceless away goal. And here’s how we rated the performances of the Blues’ stars on Thursday night;
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 6/10
Not a lot the Spaniard could have done about Jovic’s clinical header in the first half. Had little to do in terms of save-making for most of the match, with Chelsea controlling the proceedings. Distributed well from the back.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6/10
The Chelsea captain had a bit of a problem dealing with Kostic early in the game and the assist for Jovic’s opener came from his flank. Improved from thereon though, as he was much more solid and resilient in defence. Not much of an outlet going forward, while his crosses also weren’t up to the mark.
Andreas Christensen: 6/10
Inserted into the starting lineup in place of the injured Antonio Rudiger, the Danish centre-half did not make the best of the starts. Booked as early as the 18th minute for a rash tackle on Sebastian Rode, which meant he was walking the defensive tight-rope from thereon. Did well to keep his discipline for the rest of the match though, although a challenge on Mijat Gacinovic could have seen him being sent off.
David Luiz: 6/10
The most experienced of the Chelsea defenders on the night, the Brazilian should have done better to get tighter to Jovic in the lead-up to the goal in the first period. Apart from that, defended well generally, while his passing was also on point for most parts. Almost won the game for Chelsea with a free-kick in the second half, only to see Trapp tip it onto the crossbar.
Emerson Palmieri: 5/10
Starting ahead of Marcos Alonso at left-back, Emerson caused a few problems to his opposite number Danny da Costa with his forward forays, but the end product wasn’t there at all. Defensively too, he wasn’t as solid as he could have been, leaving gaps often.
N’Golo Kante: 8/10
The Frenchman did what he does best – harrying the opposition, breaking up play effectively in the middle of the park and driving his team forward at pace each time the opportunity presented itself. Ran himself into the ground, but still had enough battery to stop a certain goal towards the end of the game. Brilliant.
It was a game of two halves for the Italian pass-master who struggled to get his passing on radar in the first half, while conceding possession carelessly on a number of occasions, which was a reason why Chelsea made a poor start to the game. Turned it around after the break and started to control the tempo as Chelsea controlled the game. Was alert to stop counter-attacks on occasions.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: 8/10
Back into the side after being benched for the Manchester United game, the England international was clearly Chelsea’s biggest goal-threat on the night with his purposeful forward runs from the middle of the park. Did very well to set Pedro up for the opening goal and could have scored twice himself, but one effort was slightly off target, while the other was stopped by Trapp. Impressive.
Came ever so close to equalize soon after Eintracht had scored, but his effort missed narrowly. He was on target the second time of calling though, finishing with great precision to hand Chelsea a crucial away goal in the contest. Worked hard throughout, showed sharp link-up play, but faded after the break.
Olivier Giroud: 4/10
A disappointing outing for the leading goalscorer in the Europa League this season. Link-up play was nowhere near the level he can produce, as he was constantly let down by his touch. Could not muster up a single shot on target on the night.
Starting on the left-side in Eden Hazard’s absence, the Brazilian had a night to forget in Frankfurt. Got in promising positions and had the beating of Da Costa, but his end product was nowhere near the desired level. His decision-making was questionable on more than one occasion and was rightly taken off at the hour mark.
Eden Hazard: 5/10
Replaced Willian at the hour mark. Struggled to make much of an impact as Eintracht kept a watchful eye on him.
Mateo Kovacic: N/A
Came on for Loftus-Cheek with few minutes left.