Chelsea started their Europa League campaign with a dominant display but narrow win against PAOK Salonika. Here’s how we rated each Blues player in the 1-0 success in Greece.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 5
He flapped rather unconvincingly at a first-half cross and was not as commanding as he could have been, but was otherwise barely involved.
Davide Zappacosta: 6
He failed to make the most of numerous promising attacking positions, with his delivery more miss than hit. But the Italian brought oodles of energy and played his part in a fine team effort.
Andreas Christensen: 7
An impressive return to the heart of the Blues defence for Christensen, who played with typical composure. He was rarely tested until the closing stages when he showed his strength and durability as PAOK finally began to exert some pressure.
Antonio Rudiger: 8
The German’s ever-growing confidence was clear to see in an assured defensive performance littered with several raking cross-field passes from his own half.
Marcos Alonso: 7
Alonso defended without alarm and was a regular presence in the final third but his crossing was not up to its usual standard. He saw plenty of the ball and would normally have created a great deal more.
The key to Chelsea’s total dominance before being given a well-deserved rest with 25 minutes remaining. He was typically impressive in possession at both ends and always looked to be expansive when possible, most notably when his brilliant first-time pass gave Ross Barkley the chance to break for Willian’s goal.
N’Golo Kante :8
A trademark display from the Frenchman, full of selfless running. Kante was economical and sensible with the ball at his feet and did some great work plugging any of the few defensive gaps.
Pedro buzzed about from start to finish but like so many of his team-mates he did not get the run of the ball and had a tendency to be wasteful with his finishing and final ball. Hopefully the nasty injury-time blow he took to his head, shoulder and arm will not prove serious.
Ross Barkley: 7
He was neat, tidy and confident and set up the winning goal, finding Willian with a perfectly timed pass after a surging run from the centre of the park. He caught the eye, particularly in the first period, and proved Chelsea have plenty of viable back-up options.
Chelsea’s captain for the night had an excellent game, bursting from deep and constantly finding and making space. But the Brazilian should have added to his goal tally.
Alvaro Morata: 6
Another ultimately frustrating performance that showed flashes of his quality but without an end product. He missed a few half chances and a glorious headed opportunity from a Zappacosta cross, but was desperately unlucky not to find the net with another header and a shot that bobbled just wide after a fine run in behind and immaculate first touch. His link-up play was neat, albeit against a very limited side.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6
Solid in the left-back role after coming on, Azpilicueta made sure his side were able to see out the win.
Cesc Fabregas: 6
The Spaniard made little impact in his near 30-minute run-out but his first appearance since suffering a knee injury in the Community Shield will bring valuable game time in his quest for fitness.
Olivier Giroud: 6
A 10-minute cameo which saw him test the keeper with a respectable strike and blaze a free-kick over the bar.