Chelsea gained a massive advantage in the overall tie by securing a 1-1 draw away from home in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final clash against Eintracht Frankfurt.
It was a cagey affair at the start, with both sides trying to outdo each other in midfield. But, it was the hosts, who started the put pressure on the susceptible Chelsea backline. Their clever wing-play led to many scoring opportunities, especially on the right-hand side.
It wasn’t long before star player Luka Jovic latched onto a superb cross from Filip Kostic from the left-flank to score the opener. However, Chelsea did well to level the scoreline, thanks to a neat finish from Pedro just before half-time.
The Blues dominated proceedings in the second half, creating a plethora of chances. Ruben Loftus-Cheek perhaps had the best opportunity, but he lifted his effort just over the bar. In the end, the visitors did well to contain the late pressure from the Eagles, despite a couple of nervy moments at the death.
Here is how Maurizio Sarri’s men fared.
Kepa Arrizabalaga 6
The Spaniard was hardly tested as Eintracht Frankfurt barely managed to find a clear opening throughout the game. Could have done a little bit better in keeping out Jovic’s low header for the opener.
Cesar Azpilicueta 6
Struggled against the marauding Filip Kostic in the first-half and looked out of pace for most of the game. However, the experienced defender improved in the second half, keeping the Frankfurt attack at bay.
Andreas Christensen 6.5
Made a rash tackle on Sebastian Rode early on, which led to his booking. It restricted the Dane from being more expressive in his challenges in an otherwise decent defensive display.
David Luiz 7
Looked confidence whenever he was on the ball, notably picking up a couple of good diagonal passes. Defensively, Luiz was rattled by Jovic throughout the first-half. But, the Brazilian’s physical and aerial prowess turned out to be a problem for the opposition as the game wore on.
Looked hapless in dealing with Danny da Costa and was dispossessed on a couple of occasions, which is undoubtedly unacceptable at this level. Improved in the second half.
Jorginho was bogged down by Eintracht’s relentless pressure in midfield, which restricted the Italian from getting time and space on the ball. He did, however, provide more assurance and security in the Chelsea midfield.
N’Golo Kante 8
Dealt with Frankfurt’s high-press well with subtle touches and movements. The Frenchman also hurried and hassled the opposing midfielders, thus making him one of the most effective midfielders this evening.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek 9
By far the most impressive performer on the pitch. Loftus-Cheek offered more physicality in the Chelsea midfield that proved to be quite useful. The English international was strong in his hold-up play while he also provided the assist for Pedro’s equalizer.
An uneventful evening for Pedro before the Spaniard produced an insanely accurate finish to find the back of the net, just minutes before half-time. He looked lively afterwards, especially during the initial stages of the second half.
Olivier Giroud 5
Had zero impact on the game as the former Arsenal forward lacked proper service. His low work-ethic didn’t help his cause either.
Sabotaged a golden opportunity by trying to be more clever in front of the Frankfurt defenders. But, the Brazilian worked hard and tracked back to help out Emerson on the far side. An ineffective performance, nonetheless.
Eden Hazard 5
Failed to make a swift impact after replacing Willian around the hour-mark. The Belgian superstar mustered only 32 touches, though credit should be given to Eintracht defenders for not giving him too much time on the ball.
Mateo Kovacic N/A
Replaced Loftus-Cheek in the 82nd minute as Sarri opted for fresh legs.
Stat courtesy: Whoscored
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