Willian’s volley was the decisive factor in the Champions League clash between Lille and Chelsea as the Premier League side came away with all three points.
Chelsea and Lille were both gunning for three points on Wednesday. It was the Premier League side though, that started on the front foot, carving out good opportunities that begged an incisive finish. For the lack of it, however, Lille grew into the game slowly but surely.
Chelsea were the one to strike first, thanks to a brilliant pass from Fikayo Tomori, who found Tammy Abraham alone in front of goal. Abraham coolly slotted it past Mike Maignan to score Chelsea’s first Champions League goal under Frank Lampard. Lille struck back soon, with Victor Osimhen getting his head on the ball, an effort for which Kepa Arrizabalaga could have done more.
The second half was a bit of an open affair, with chances coming at both ends on the pitch. It was Willian, though, who proved to be the match-winner for Chelsea, with a bizarre volley from Callum Hudson-Odoi’s stretched cross. The ball flew over Maignan’s head and into the back of the net, handing Chelsea all three points.
We take a look at how the individuals fared.
Kepa Arrizabalaga – 6
A bit of a mixed outing from the world’s most expensive goalkeeper. Did well to save an early effort but could have done more to save Osimhen’s equalizing effort. Made good saves in the second half but came close to conceding again from a corner. Needs to improve his composure and concentration in set-pieces.
Cesar Azpilicueta – 6.5
Azpilicueta looked more at home in the slightly withdrawn and central position as part of the three-man backline. Found teammates with ease and sprayed the ball to good effect. Ended the game with the most number of passes completed of any player on the field (92) and with good accuracy (94%).
Lampard should think about using Azpilicueta as a centre-back now that Reece James is fit enough to start games on the right side of the defence.
Kurt Zouma – 6.5
Played the role of a no-nonsense defender really well. Did not commit any grave mistakes. Swept away loose balls with ease and was supremely dominant in air, which was one of the main reasons Chelsea found it easy to tackle the threat posed by Lille. A performance that will do his confidence a whole lot of good.
Fikayo Tomori – 7.5
The pick of the defenders and perhaps the best player for Chelsea on Wednesday. Tomori not only did his job at the back well but also embodied the brand of football that Lampard is trying to instill at the club. His through ball was perfected enough to evade defenders and find the feet of Tammy Abraham for the first goal.
Wasn’t as dominant in the air as Zouma and did survive a penalty shout in the second half. But, Tomori ended the game with an assist for the first goal while also having made the most number of tackles of any Chelsea player (5) during the game. Tomori seems to have locked down his place as a regular in central defence.
Reece James – 6
Was anonymous in the first half and did not influence the proceedings much going forward. Flew in good crosses in the second half but still needs to improve his form and performance levels a lot. Perhaps, James needs more time to settle in, given his injury layoff.
N’Golo Kante – 7
Kante was his own self and his own groove, as we can call it. Did everything from defending to passing to going forward. Completed the most number of dribbles (4) of any Chelsea player during the game and was a joy to watch. Lampard needs to protect Kante, though. The one that makes everything tick for Chelsea.
Jorginho – 7
If Kante was good, Jorginho was no less. The Italian seems to have become accustomed to finding pockets of spaces in midfield to ensure the ball keep ticking and that Chelsea control the tempo. Came close to scoring. Jorginho seems to be enjoying the confidence of his manager and it’s showing in his game.
Marcos Alonso – 6.5
Alonso did what he does best. Run forward, trouble opposition defenders and sometimes, be the furthest player forward. There came a point where Alonso was seen driving down the right flank, where Willian and Reece James were already present. A normal outing from the Spaniard.
Willian – 7.5
The saviour of the game, as the Chelsea Twitter handle called it. The Lille game was perhaps, Willian’s best performance this season. Delivered good balls from set-pieces whenever in-charge, ran at the defenders unsettling the Lille defence, found teammates well and then delivered the knockout blow to Lille with his bizarre slicing technique on the volley.
Tammy Abraham – 7
Yes, Abraham did score a goal. But, he looked out of sorts on Wednesday. Was not his usual in-form self, lest he could have had a couple more to his name against Lille. Did his job at defending set-pieces well, clearing once just away from the line. Undisputed first-choice number 9 at Chelsea for the moment.
Mason Mount – 6
It was a very ordinary game from Mason Mount; a performance that begged the question whether the playmaker should be afforded some rest, lest we fear a potential burnout going forward in the season. Clutched at straws, found himself at the end of 3 or more good opportunities but failed to convert them or trouble the keeper a great deal.
Callum Hudson-Odoi – 7
In the minutes he was given to impact the game after coming on, he did just that, providing the cross for the winner. But, apart from that, Hudson-Odoi showed just why he is so revered. Will be a huge asset to the Chelsea team once Lampard decides he is fit enough to start games.
Pedro – N/A
Late substitution, possibly to run the clock down and add a fresh pair of legs to press the Lille players on the ball.
Mateo Kovacic – N/A
Same as Pedro. Brought in to waste time and freshen up the options.