Chelsea returned to Champions League action after a 12-month absence and missed a late penalty in a 1-0 defeat against Valencia at Stamford Bridge. Here’s how we rated each Blues player in their first game of this season’s competition.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 6
He had almost nothing to do until the late goal, and it was only the half-connection which beat him as the ball bounced down and above him into the roof of the net following one of many well-worked free-kicks.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 8
The Blues skipper was a major attacking influence in the first half, putting in several teasing crosses and always backing up Willian. He remained involved going forward and defended stoutly throughout in what was his best performance of a so-far indifferent season.
Andreas Christensen: 7
He was steady and dependable, going about his defensive work without any fuss and showing typical poise and calmness on the ball.
Fikayo Tomori: 7
Another encouraging performance from the young centre-back, who defended with an obvious self-belief and also contributed well on a couple of occasions at the other end of the pitch.
Kurt Zouma: 6
The big French defender did well enough on his return to the team and used his pace to good effect, but he still looked shaky in possession when put under any sort of pressure.
Marcos Alonso: 7
Took up many a smart attacking position and also played in some dangerous crosses, as well as winning a couple of vital defensive headers. Alonso almost scored from two free-kicks after the break, one a cute low strike and the other a fizzing effort from out wide.
Mateo Kovacic: 6
The Croatian brought a good tempo to Chelsea’s play, often leading the press and instigating attacks.
He continues to link play impressively and is doing so much higher up the pitch. Jorginho was neat and tidy but also important in attacking areas, spreading play and always making himself available.
Mason Mount: 6
The newly-capped England midfielder looked devastated when he was forced off with an ankle injury because of an odious late challenge by former Arsenal man Francis Coquelin. He didn’t have time to make his mark, but it was telling that it took the Blues a good 10 minutes to settle down after his exit.
The standout attacking player, particularly in the first period. He made countless superb runs, but a combination of bad luck and sloppy passing prevented him from creating a goal. It was a similar tale with his finishing, shooting just wide but also smashing a shot over after a great run in behind and a fine first touch. He remained bright and dangerous and always the best forward on display but, frustratingly, also showed a lack of awareness to play in team-mates when in the final third.
Tammy Abraham: 6
Abraham looked sharp and rightly full of confidence having scored seven goals in three games. A couple of clever runs across his man almost saw him score with a near-post flick and a header before the break. His work-rate was good and he also won a couple of important headers.
Mount’s early replacement never quite adjusted to the pace after nearly a month out injured, giving the ball away too cheaply, too often.
Olivier Giroud: 5
The top scorer in last season’s Europa League, with 11 goals, Giroud had one decent strike on goal after coming on but although he hit it well enough, it lacked direction.
Ross Barkley: 5
He came on late and demanded to take the penalty – and duly smashed it over. With Jorginho and Willian bother desperate to take it, Barkley – despite being desperate to make an impression – should surely have deferred.