Chelsea share spoils with Krasnodar to complete unbeaten group stage

Date published: Tuesday 8th December 2020 10:17 - Samuel Bannister

Chelsea completed their Champions League group stage campaign unbeaten by drawing 1-1 with Krasnodar in their final match.

Having already secured qualification for the knockout stages, Chelsea were able to rotate their lineup. Frank Lampard gave a first start to Faustino Anjorin, while fellow academy graduate Billy Gilmour was also in the team.

If they were hoping for a comfortable night, though, Krasnodar reminded them that they were still there to compete by taking the lead.

Former Newcastle player Remy Cabella broke the deadlock in the 24th minute with a shot from inside the box.

Krasnodar’s lead did not last long, though. Soon after, Chelsea won a penalty when Tammy Abraham was fouled in the box.

Jorginho stepped up to take it, and made no mistake from the spot to restore parity after 28 minutes. There was no change to the score in the second half.

Ultimately the Blues will move on undeterred, with immediate Premier League trips to Everton and Wolves holding far greater significance – and a last-16 Champions League tie to look forward in the new year.

Gilmour impressed, typically mixing tidiness with attacking threat from midfield, while 19-year-old Anjorin showed encouraging progress.

Chelsea started slowly, especially without the ball.

Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen appeared sluggish, causing problems for their full-backs when Krasnodar attacked at speed.

Viktor Claesson whipped an effort wide when afforded far too much time and space in the box, which yielded a major reprieve for the hosts and that tentative defence.

The Blues failed to heed the lesson though, and Cabella took full advantage. The midfielder drilled low into the net from another situation where the home defence stood off and watched.

First Christensen left Cesar Azpilicueta exposed down the flank by sitting too deep and narrow, and then the Denmark defender failed to close down Cabella in the box.

The result was the Krasnodar lead, and one that Chelsea could hardly argue against at that point.

Jorginho keeps cool to claim draw

The Blues’ sole saving grace of a lacklustre half proved their immediate riposte, as Abraham won a penalty having been fed in the box by Mateo Kovacic.

Jorginho stepped up to the spot with a point to prove, perhaps as much to himself as anyone else. The Italy midfielder stuck to his trademark skipped run-up, and duly wrong-footed the goalkeeper.

While he doubtless expected to score, the relief was palpable as he puffed out his cheeks and pumped his fist.

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The match was always likely to meander, but the next incident of note did not come until after the hour mark.

Cristian Ramirez gifted Abraham the ball in the Krasnodar six-yard box and – while the Chelsea striker was already picturing his goal – Evgeni Gorodov had entirely the opposite idea.

The Krasnodar goalkeeper conjured a fine point-blank block, leaving Abraham perplexed on a golden chance missed.

Kai Havertz should have scored too, just minutes later, when played in by debutant Anjorin. But the German’s sticky patch had continued here, and a heavy touch allowed Gorodov to recover.

By this point Lampard had seen enough, and called for the cavalry for the final 15 minutes. Off came Kovacic and Havertz, with N’Golo Kante and Werner sent into action in search of a winner.

Immediately Kante dinked a delicious ball into the box, only for Abraham to fail to meet the cross.

No breakthrough could be found however, leaving the Blues frustrated with the draw but still delighted to be heading into the knockout stages.

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