Andreas Christensen, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Hakim Ziyech stood out as Chelsea eked out a 1-0 win over Malmo FF on Tuesday.
The game proved to be frustrating for Chelsea, with Malmo providing a stubborn resistance against their attack. Clear-cut chances came few and far between for the Blues in the first half, and it came through Ruben Loftus-Cheek, only for Kai Havertz to not execute his shot at the right time.
Malmo ended the first half strongly, although Edouard Mendy was not made to work, as Antonio Colak shot wide of the target. Ten minutes post the interval, Chelsea finally broke the deadlock, as the front three combined smartly before Hakim Ziyech finished from close range.
That would prove to be the only goal in the game, although Thiago Silva did come close, only to be denied on the goal line. The result means Chelsea need just one more point to book their place in the Round of 16 after Juventus beat Zenit St Petersburg later in the day. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Thomas Tuchel’s men.
Edouard Mendy: 6/10
Yet another game wherein Mendy had precious little to do, not like he would mind such an outing. The Senegalese goalkeeper kept a clean sheet without breaking a sweat, having not being forced into a single save.
Andreas Christensen: 8/10
A domineering display by Christensen, who was an immovable object at the back, winning six duels in the game. The Dane completed 91 per cent of his attempted passes while also coming close to scoring in the first half.
Thiago Silva: 7/10
Sitting at the base of the three-man central defensive unit, Silva helped Chelsea retain control of the proceedings while being imperious in the air. He completed all but two passes that he attempted, facilitating efficient build-up play. The veteran defender even came close to scoring, only to be denied off the line in the second half.
Antonio Rudiger: 7/10
A solid effort by Rudiger, who kept a check on Antonio Colak smartly while playing out from the back efficiently. Some of his passes were wasteful, but on the whole, this was a largely commanding display by the German defender.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6/10
After making a full recovery from a minor injury, Azpilicueta returned to the starting lineup. But there were some signs of rust, with the Spaniard losing the ball cheaply on a few occasions while hardly posing a threat in the final third. The Chelsea skipper was barely tested defensive, although he held his own on the off chance he was put under pressure.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: 8/10
Ruben Loftus-Cheek's game by numbers vs. Malmo:
30 passes in final third
14 duels won (most)
8 final third entries
7 take-ons completed (most)
7 touches in the opp. box
4 aerial duels won (most)
3 chances created
3 possession won
Dominant in midfield. pic.twitter.com/NcxNT0Ewme
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 2, 2021
Loftus-Cheek continues to go from strength to strength with every passing game. The English midfielder, making his first start in the UEFA Champions League since 2015, was in his element, linking up superbly with each of the attackers out in front. Loftus-Cheek set up a couple of smart chances, only for the right finishing touches to not be applied. Solid effort nonetheless.
With Chelsea in complete control of the proceedings, for the most part, Jorginho provided a calming presence in the middle of the park. The Italian international barely ever lost the ball while also looking to cut out the threat higher up the pitch. Job well done.
Marcos Alonso: 6/10
Back in the side, Alonso was given a chance to show Tuchel should give him more game-time. However, the Spaniard did not get going, at least as far as his creative output is concerned. Alonso never really got used to the game’s pace, although he was not tested much in the defensive phases.
Hakim Ziyech: 8/10
Making a second successive start, this was Ziyech’s chance to make an impression, as we illustrated in our preview. And the Moroccan playmaker was one of the brightest sparks for Chelsea, playing a game-high five key passes while scoring the match-winner from close range. There were some major positives here, and Ziyech has made his case for regular game-time.
🇲🇦 Top Moroccan scorers in Champions League era:
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) November 2, 2021
Callum Hudson-Odoi: 7/10
Yet another performance wherein Hudson-Odoi made his mark. The Englishman was a constant outlet on the left side of the Chelsea attack, linking up superbly with Ziyech and Havertz while playing three key passes. Hudson-Odoi also had his part to play as Ziyech scored the only goal of the game.
Kai Havertz: 6/10
It was a busy evening for Havertz, who created a couple of decent opportunities while also coming at the end of two chances. However, the German international seemed to have left his shooting boots at home, spurning promising openings in either half. He was involved in the move leading up to Ziyech’s goal.
Ross Barkley: N/A
On for Hudson-Odoi, Barkley produced a bright cameo, even creating a late chance. The English midfielder has been showing some promising signs in his appearances off the bench.
Christian Pulisic: N/A
Given the final 15 minutes, Pulisic got some valuable game-time to get his rhythm back. He played a key pass as well but inexplicably shot wide of the target late on.