Milan received a painful football lesson at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night as they were trampled by Chelsea in Champions League matchday 3. Graham Potter’s Blues won 3-0 with goals from Wesley Fofana, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Reece James to pass the Rossoneri in the Group E table of the top continental competition.
Nothing is lost for Milan as the group is very balanced and the Rossoneri will have the chance for a possible revenge on Tuesday already as they will welcome Chelsea at the San Siro in the reverse fixture. Still, tonight’s hammering was a painful one and was only partially justified by a long list of absentees among the red-and-black lines.
Graham Potter deployed his Chelsea troops in a 3-4-1-2 fashion. Ex-Napoli stalwart Kalidou Koulibaly featured in the Bleus’ back-three from the start for the first time since the former Brighton and Hove coach took charge. Upfront, Mason Mount supported Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who spent his youth in Milan as part of their football academy.
With eight potential starters unavailable, Stefano Pioli had basically no alternatives. His only doubts were in defense, where he eventually chose Sergino Dest rather than Pierre Kalulu as right back. The Frenchman featured in his usual center back position alongside Fikayo Tomori.
Milan had an encouraging start but the first shooting attempt came from Chelsea. Thiago Silva – another former Rossonero – recovered the ball in midfield and triggered a fast break that ended with Mount’s tricky shot. Ciprian Tatarusanu was alert and defused the challenge.
The Rossoneri seemed confident and well-organized but never really came to threaten Kepa Arribazalaga. Olivier Giroud was scarcely served upfront while Charles De Ketelaere struggled to get in the game. Both were replaced in the second half without leaving any trace in the match.
Chelsea grew by the minute and collected three corners in a row. Tatarusanu saved what he could, denying Thiago Silva’s headers three times but couldn’t do anything when Fofana found the right spot into his goal to conclude a chaotic action in Milan’s box.
The Blues smelled blood and increased the pressure. Milan were saved on 32 minutes as Mount’s second for Chelsea was disallowed on grounds of offside. Sterling wreaked havoc on the right side and also came close to scoring but Kalulu blocked his shot with a brilliant slide tackle.
Right before the break, though, Milan gave a sudden spark of life. Rafael Leao did what he is best at – galloping along the left lane to cross the ball into the middle of the box but both De Ketelaere and Krunic wasted a golden chance as the Belgian served Kepa the chance for an easy save while the former Empoli man fired the ball into the Stamford Bridge stands.
The Rossoneri‘s hopes of rebalancing the game were short-lasting, though, as Chelsea got the job done with a deadly one-two in the middle of the second half.
On 56 minutes, Ben Chilwell came up with a cross from the left hand side that seemed misdirected but was caught by James on the opposite flank. Chelsea’s no. 24 whipped the ball back into the middle of the box, where Aubameyang anticipated Tomori and fired it past Tatarusanu from close range, making it 2-0.
Soon after, Chelsea finalized a beautiful team effort that ended with James piercing the Rossoneri goalkeeper at the near post with a brutal conclusion.
The match tempo inevitably slowed down as Pioli started to think about the upcoming game with Juventus and made multiple substitutions to preserve the likes of Leao and Giroud. Chelsea also hit the brakes as they could be happy with the score.
The two sides will meet again at the San Siro next Tuesday in a game that will say a lot about the team’s respective chances of making it to the Champions League knockout stage.
RB Salzburg’s win over Dinamo Zagreb in the other group match earlier today generated a situation where all four teams are within a two-point range in the table so everything is still to be decided.
October 5, 2022 – Champions 2022-2023 Group E
CHELSEA – MILAN 3-0
SCORERS: 24′ Fofana, 56′ Aubameyang, 61′ James
|CHELSEA (3-4-1-2): Kepa; Fofana (37’ Chalobah), Thiago Silva, Koulibaly; James, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic (63’ Jorginho), Chilwell; Mount (74’ Havertz); Sterling (74’ Broja), Aubameyang (63’ Gallagher) (Bettinelli, Mendy, Pulisic, Zakaria, Ziyech, Azpilicueta, Cucurella) Coach: Potter
|MILAN (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Dest, Kalulu, Tomori, Ballo-Touré; Bennacer (72’ Pobega) Tonali; Krunic (63’ Gabbia), De Ketelaere (63’ Rebic), Rafael Leao (72’ Brahim Díaz); Giroud (72’ Origi) (Mirante, Jungdal, Gala, Coubis) Coach: Pioli
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Kovacic, Thiago Silva (C), Krunic, Ballo-Touré, Tomori (M); Added Time: 1st Half 4′, 2nd Half 2′
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