Chelsea sealed an incredible away win with the last kick of the game as Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to secure a 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid – in front their new signing Diego Costa.
Chelsea started off the first-half impressively, forcing the objective through an aggressive high press. Eden Hazard masterminded a superb attacking display from Chelsea, brushing past the Atletico defence time and time again with his mazy dribbles, and the Belgian winger was so nearly rewarded for his troubles when his deflected effort struck the post.
Despite dominating Chelsea went into the break 1-0 down, as David Luiz gave away a penalty for a ludicrously lazy tug on the shirt of Luis Hernandez. The subsequent penalty was tucked away by Antoine Griezmann and Chelsea’s hard work was seemingly undone.
The second-half kicked off with much the same intensity from Chelsea, and it wasn’t long until parity was restored through the head of Alvaro Morata – who guided a header past Jan Oblak in goal.
Chelsea began to sit deeper and brought on Andreas Christensen to soak up Atletico’s late pressure, but it would be the Blues who struck the decisive blow as Batshuayi swept home a Marcos Alonso cut back.
Here are the player ratings from the victory:
Thibaut Courtois – 7, Made some good saves to keep Atletico at bay but wasn’t all that busy.
Cesar Azpilicueta – 8, wasn’t needed in a defensive capacity for much of the game but his composure on the ball was brilliant as ever.
David Luiz – 5, took the ridiculous decision to pull Hernandez’s shirt back, which could’ve proved costly. Over the past few weeks, Luiz has strayed between the superb and the senseless, and a return to these types of erratic performances will soon become more of an issue.
Gary Cahill – 7, again picked ahead of the impressive Rudiger and didn’t disappoint as his leadership and no-nonsense approach to defending helped repel Atletico attacks.
Victor Moses – 7, did a superb job in pressing Atletico and his link-up play with Hazard and Fabregas helped Chelsea hold the ball of long periods, before making lung-busting runs down the flanks to spread the defence and create space for Morata and Hazard.
Cesc Fabregas – 7, alongside Kante and Bakayoko, Fabregas has the freedom to get forward and influence play, and he took full advantage of that today, picking up loose balls before spraying passes into the feet of Morata to lay off or shoot.
N’Golo Kante – 9, he never stopped running, and his ability to hold onto the ball and drive forward helped push Chelsea up the pitch. He spearheaded Chelsea’s pressing mentality and won the ball back countless times.
Tiemoue Bakayoko – 9, he won all five of his attempted tackles on the night and was constantly hustling and harrying the Atletico midfield – who were dominated by the sheer bulk of Bakayoko and the anticipation of Kante.
Marcos Alonso – 8, grabbed the decisive assist right at the death to condemn Atletico to their first loss at home in the Champions League for 11 matches. he also contributed to Chelsea’s press by intercepting and blocking numerous balls forward.
Eden Hazard – 10, Conte has managed his return from injury spectacularly, rested against Stoke and back to his very best against Atletico. He grabbed an assist for Morata’s equalising goal with a brilliant cross, but aside from that he created the most chances of any player in the Champions League this week (7) and completed six take-ons.
Alvaro Morata – 8, another goal for Morata, this time with his head, as the onlooking Costa could only watch on in awe. He held the ball up incredibly well, and his flicks round the corners opened up so many chances for the rest of the Chelsea attack.
Willian – 6, his primary job was to halt Atletico’s breaks forward and he did so admirably. He was also able to draw fouls with his quick feet which held up play.
Michy Batshuayi – 8, he’s a pure goal machine at the moment, and his ability to stay calm under pressure has yet again proved to be vital during another one of his cameo roles from the bench. That’s now the Belgian’s fifth goal in all competitions this season despite having only started twice.
Andreas Christensen – N/A, came on to steady the ship but he played too few minutes to warrant a rating.
Pep Guardiola pictured with tactics board ahead of Chelsea as he faces biggest concern
Pep Guardiola heads into Saturday’s title showdown with Chelsea wondering how he will fill the void left by Benjamin Mendy.
The Manchester City manager was photographed heading back to his city centre apartment on Wednesday with a blank tactics board.
But left back is the area that will be of most concern ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge.
City face their sternest test of the season yet against the reigning Premier League champions.
Guardiola is waiting to learn the extent of the damage to Mendy’s knee, with the French international having travelled to Barcelona to undergo tests with renowned surgeon Dr Ramon Cugat.
It’s feared the 23-year-old has suffered ligament damage, which Guardiola suspects will see him sidelined for months.
The City manager is considering bringing in a replacement in January, but must find a way to cover his absence in the meantime.
Guardiola was fulsome in his praise of Fabian Delph following victory against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday – but the midfielder does not offer the same attacking threat as Mendy.
Brazilian Danilo was a surprise absentee for that Champions League tie, suggesting he could have been rested for Chelsea.
But Mendy’s injury poses a wider-reaching concern – leaving City short of options at full back.
The signings of the Frenchman, Kyle Walker and Danilo have transformed City this season, with Guardiola crediting them for his side’s devastating attacking form in the early weeks of the campaign.
Which is why he is ready to bring forward summer plans to sign back up for Mendy to January.
“We would miss him a lot, it would be a major setback,” he said. “We will see (about signing a replacement). We thought about next summer about looking for another left-back.
“We have Danilo, (Fabian) Delph and (Oleks) Zinchenko who can play there so we will see as we go along.”
Ilkay Gundogan insists City must learn their lessons from two defeats to Chelsea last season.
“We need to be ready and show our mentality, especially in these games,” said the German. “It’s a big game. We want to go there and play our best and hopefully win the game.
“We did a good job in the game and played quite well, but Chelsea were just ruthless. They scored and punished us and we made too many mistakes.
“We want to do it better on Saturday.”