Callum Hudson-Odoi wraps up another good night for Chelsea
Young striker scores late third goal as Blues take complete control of Kiev tie
Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi scores their third goal during the Europa League round of 16 first leg against Dynamo Kiev at Stamford Bridge. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters
Chelsea 3 Dynamo Kiev 0
This was the kind of breeze of a tie Maurizio Sarri must crave. Chelsea, a club who have endured such a cluttered schedule for months, eased their way comfortably to a first-leg advantage over Dynamo Kiev with key players putting their feet up on the bench and youngsters flung into the fray to make an impression before the end.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi rightly crave more than mere cameos at this level, with the latter using his glimpse of action to register another fine goal from the former’s assist.
Yet this Europa League run appears set to be prolonged, and greater game-time could await at the Olympic stadium next week when progress into the quarter-finals will surely be secured.
Sarri, too, would point to the fine goals plucked by his elder statesmen, Pedro and Willian, as having deflated Dynamo’s ambition, though this group always boasted the class and quality to prevail.
It had been the zip and incision of Chelsea’s passes which had fuelled the early belief that this tie could be killed off at the first attempt.
The hosts’ newfound confidence could be measured in the boom of David Luiz’s crossfield passes, propelling possession accurately from flank to flank, from defence into the attacking third, with Dynamo helpless onlookers as the delivery dipped expertly over them and bit on the turf to be collected by a galloping Davide Zappacosta, on a first start in two months, or Pedro on the wing. The Spaniard, in particular, revelled in the space he was afforded. His goal would prise the visitors apart, though Pedro must have departed frustrated at the interval not to boast more plunder for his efforts.
His opener had been expertly crafted, and at such a breathless tempo to have left Dynamo dizzied. It had been Ross Barkley who spread the play to the left flank with Pedro, having momentarily swapped wings, skipping inside into the penalty area and continuing his dart having fed Olivier Giroud.
The Frenchman’s back-heeled return, eased through Artem Shabanov’s legs, was cheekily placed and gloriously paced, with Pedro collecting to steer his shot beyond a hopelessly exposed Denys Boyko from close range. Tomasz Kedziora, the right back who might have tracked the run, was utterly bypassed by the whole exchange, a mere passenger catching up with play.
The Ukrainians, shorn of the injured Spanish forward, Fran Sol, and the suspended Benjamin Verbic, had spent much of that opening quarter heaving to contain the Chelsea threat as best they could, but their own game was laced with panic, setting a far more troubling tone.
Defenders and goalkeeper alike were forever shunting the ball out of play, as if deliberately seeking to place it marginally out of reach of a team-mate. It merely served to invite further pressure, with the respite from the onslaught only ever fleeting.
Barkley was denied by the onrushing goalkeeper, while Pedro should have converted a second from in front of goal, only to prod Zappacosta’s centre weakly at a relieved Boyko. When Pedro was supplied by Luiz’s straight pass, chipped between centre backs, he teed himself up expertly with his first touch only for the goalkeeper to block his left-footed volley.
Sarri had hopped around his technical area in exasperation at each missed chance, ever conscious that, while Dynamo were there for the taking, they retained hope while the deficit remained so slender. Nazariy Rusyn’s running had posed their greatest threat, occasionally stretching the home side’s backline though rarely for long enough to allow teammates to sprint upfield in support.
Yet Chelsea’s measure of control rarely dipped. Loftus-Cheek and N’Golo Kanté injected further energy into their approach and, when the former was fouled, Willian conjured a jaw-dropping shot from the resultant free-kick which arced over a leaping defensive wall and plunged into the top corner. Boyko, static on his line, berated his defenders, but the sheer artistry of the delivery had to be admired.
Willian had been booed mercilessly by the small visiting support, a legacy of his previous association with Shakhtar Donetsk. His was a fine response, and a carbon copy of a free-kick scored against the same opponents in a Champions League tie between the clubs three seasons ago.
Loftus-Cheek, stretching but only managing to divert a shot over the bar after a wonderful, flowing move up field in partnership with Pedro, might have added a deserved third before the end, with local anxiety reserved for Sidcley’s flicked header which bobbled across goal rather than beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga.
That enraged Sarri, though Hudson-Odoi would soon lance any lingering tension with a composed finish, steered beyond Boyko after Loftus-Cheek had touched the ball back across. The perfect evening was complete. – Guardian