Eintracht Frankfurt had a fiery start to the game, notably forcing an early save from Kepa Arrizabalaga. But, Chelsea gradually improved and looked comfortable for most of the first-half. Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored the opener just before the half-hour mark by curling a low strike into the bottom corner.
However, an improved performance from Frankfurt saw the visitors claw their way back into the game. Luka Jovic scored the equaliser few minutes after the restart, mostly thanks to an excellent through ball from Mijat Gacinovic. It was a cagey affair, afterwards as both sides struggled to find any real openings, though Chelsea did waste a lot of counter-attacking opportunities.
The Blues largely dominated the first half of extra time. But, it was Frankfurt forward Sebastian Haller, who was presented with two best opportunities. However, both of his goalbound efforts were stopped by goalline clearances. In the end, it was Eden Hazard, whose confident penalty offered Chelsea a ticket to the Europea League final.
Here is how Maurizio Sarri’s men performed in their nervy win over Frankfurt.
Kepa Arrizabalaga 9
Made an early save to deny Danny da Costa. The Spaniard made countless saves throughout the game to keep his side in the contest. Also showed high awareness to keep himself steady in Martin Hinteregger’s poor penalty. Certainly one of the best performers on the pitch this evening.
Cesar Azpilicueta 6.5
Struggled to cope with the sheer strength of Ante Rebic on the far side. The experienced defender looked out of pace against the Croatian while making a host of rash challenges. Perhaps lucky not to be sent off before the final whistle. Failed in the penalty-shootout as well – in what was Chelsea’s only miss.
Andreas Christensen 6
Christensen facing Rebic on the right-flank seemed like a physical mismatch, at times, as the Dane was quite easily muscled off the ball by the Frankfurt attacker. Picked up an injury late in the game.
David Luiz 8
Luiz was marked as the weak link in Chelsea’s defence as the Frankfurt players often tried to put pressure on the Brazilian whenever he had the ball and succeeded at times too. However, he also delivered some breathtaking long balls and produced the most confident penalty kick of the evening. A mixed bag.
He was wary of his defensive duties and did well to restrict da Costa from marauding forward. Not very ineffective in the attack, however.
Mateo Kovacic 5
Struggled to ease to Chelsea’s transition play and looked rusty in his overall ball-distribution. Kovacic made a few rash challenges as well. A disappointing performance from the Croatian international.
He was by far the most composed midfielder for Chelsea this evening. The Italian showed great character and skill to evade the high-intensity press from Frankfurt in midfield. Also delivered a lot of intricate passes into the final third. A comprehensive display from Jorginho that was highlighted by his terrific spot kick in the shootout.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek 7
Started the game on a positive note, using his physicality to assert Chelsea’s dominance in midfield. But, he was anonymous in the second half. Got replaced by Ross Barkley in the 86th minute.
Moved up and down the right-flank but always looked in trouble when it came to breaching the solid Frankfurt defence. However, the Brazilian still offered a threat going forward. But, he was shockingly taken off for Pedro just after the hour-mark.
Olivier Giroud 5
Another disappointing game for the Frenchman, who struggled to find the back of the net. He was devoid of service, at times, though.
Eden Hazard 9
Looked like a menace whenever he had the ball. His mazy runs in and around the final third made life difficult for the Frankfurt throughout the game. His energy and willingness to get involved in the game was inspiring. And scoring the last penalty was enough to signify his importance at Chelsea.
Covered a lot of ground after replacing Willian in the 62nd minute. Tried to take a few shots but they were blocked by the rigid Frankfurt defence.
Davide Zappacosta 8
Offered a lot of energy on the right-flank after replacing Christensen in the 74th minute. An essential goalline clearance to deny Haller the winner in the extra time.
Ross Barkley 5
Putting away an excellent spot kick was his only real contribution, after replacing Loftus-Cheek in the 86th minute.
Gonzalo Higuain N/A
Much like Giroud, Higuain was wasteful in front of goal. Also wasted a brilliant counter-attack opportunity during the dying embers of the game, due to an awful touch.
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