Chelsea ratings in Salzburg win as Kovacic shines but striker gets 5

RB Salzburg v Chelsea: Pictures

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Chelsea all but sealed their place in the Champions League knockout stages but were forced to fight until the end by Red Bull Salzburg after securing a hard-fought 2-1 victory in Austria. The Blues took the lead twice but were taken all the way by Matthias Jaissle’s young and determined side as they continued their unbeaten start under head coach Graham Potter.

The visitors dominated the first half and took the lead when Mateo Kovacic struck into the top corner from 20 yards out, before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed a series of opportunities to extend their advantage.

It looked as if they would pay for their profligacy when Junior Adamu finished off an excellent Salzburg counter-attack shortly after the interval. But Kai Havertz restored their advantage with a brilliant curled effort that went in off the underside off the crossbar to clinch a third successive win and clinch their place in the last-16.

Express Sport looks at which Chelsea players performed and those who didn’t after an absorbing contest in Austria.

Kepa Arrizabalaga: 7

Much has been said about the Spaniard’s impressive form since becoming Potter’s number one. But his distribution was a notable concern after giving the ball away on multiple occasions. Could have reacted slightly better to Adamu’s effort but did well to preserve Chelsea’s lead after coming under pressure late on. Booked.

Trevoh Chalobah: 7

Chelsea are still yet to lose a game Chalobah started and his pace and aggression was crucial in defending against the dangerous duo of Noah Okafor and Adamu. An asset for Potter in the absence of Wesley Fofana and the 23-year-old was solid in his role.

Thiago Silva: 7

Always seems to be in the right position to snuff out the danger and was fautless in the first half. The 38-year-old missed a challenge high up the pitch that led to the Salzburg goal, but redeemed himself with a valiant clearance off the line at 2-1.

Marc Cucurella: 6

Still yet to see the form that convinced Chelsea to spend upwards of £62million on the Spaniard. Used in the centre of the back three and looked more comfortable than in the wing-back role he has previously played in, although was found wanting for Adamu’s goal.

Christian Pulisic: 6

Another player who is desperate for playing time, Pulisic slotted into an attacking right-wing back role. While he is no Reece James, the American proved he can be versatile as he got involved in the build-up. Caught out for the Salzburg goal as he failed to chase down Max Wober. Taken off after an embarrassing air-shot.

Conor Gallagher: 7

A real handful for the Salzburg midfield three, who could not cope with his energy and clever touches in the midfield. Unlocked the defence on several occasions and will be wondering how he didn’t finish with an assist. Gareth Southgate would have surely taken note of his display. Booked.

Jorginho: 7

Made two crucial interventions when Salzburg made a bright start and patrolled the back four expertly. As Chelsea took control, he took on the role of their midfield dictator and produced true captain’s performance. Unlucky to see his header cleared off the line.

Mateo Kovacic: 8

Graham Potter has started him in every Champions League game he has managed and the Croatian capped another influential display with a rare goal that found the top corner. In the absence of N’Golo Kante, the Croatian has transformed into Chelsea’s most crucial and consistent performer.

Raheem Sterling: 5

As long as Potter continues to deploy Sterling out of position, the winger will struggle to emphasise his importance. He is not a wing-back, but Sterling improved as the game went on with some neat passes and showed his work rate by helping Cucurella when defending.

Kai Havertz: 8

Had a point to prove after a poor run of form recently and played like it. Kept the ball alive for Kovacic’s goal and then unselfishly set up Aubameyang, who should have scored. Then curled home a stunning winner to give Chelsea to show Potter he has a part to play in his plans.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 6

Chelsea paid £12m to sign the former Arsenal man to put away chances, but he was guilty of squandering three gilt-edged opportunities. Salzburg goalkeeper Kohn was in fine form to deny him and he kept going, but the Gabonese will be disappointed not to get a goal after being substituted.


Ruben Loftus-Cheek: 6

On for Kovacic. Would have been eager to showcase his ability with a World Cup place up for grabs and looked tidy in possession.

Cesar Azpilicueta: 6

On for Pulisic. Brought on to help preserve the lead and showed leadership.

Armando Broja: 5

On for Aubameyang. Barely had a sniff as Chelsea defended in numbers.

Mason Mount: N/A

Hakim Ziyech: N/A

Not used: Bettinelli, Mendy, Zakaria, Chilwell, Chukwuemeka.

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