Chelsea cruised to the quarterfinals after an immaculate performance in Kiev
Oliver Giroud was the star on the night, the Chelsea hitman scoring the perfect hat-trick (left foot, right foot, header) to register his first treble in a Chelsea shirt. Giroud was nearly impeccable on the night, linking up with his fellow forwards with inch-perfect precision and also setting up Hudson Odoi’s goal which wrapped up the scoring late on the night.
It was a game of huge disproportions. Chelsea restricted Dynamo Kiev to just 2 shots on target, had 63% of the ball (71% in a dominant first half) and made almost twice as many passes as their well-beaten hosts.
The only real chance Dynamo managed to create was in the second half, a chance that should’ve been gobbled up by captain Sergiy Sydorchuk, who had two swings at the ball from close range following a goalmouth melee, hitting the goalkeeper first and then stroking the ball onto the post with an open goal gaping at him. Apart from that, the home team was restricted to half chances.
It was Dynamo’s biggest home defeat in their European football history. At the same time, it was also Chelsea’s biggest away win in their Europa League history.
But there more takeaways from the game than just the difference in class that was fairly clear within the first half itself. The match served as an audition for Mateo Kovacic in his defensive midfield role, a position usually occupied by Jorginho.
The Croatian midfielder looked right at home in the role, even to the extent that some might argue whether he is going to challenge Jorginho for that role as the season wears on. He was energetic, zestful, controlled the ball well and contributed in a well-balanced manner to both defence and attack. An all-around performance from the on-loan Madrid man.
A word for Willian and the ever-willing Marcos Alonso as well, carving open the opposition rearguard throughout the night with their relentless running power. Willian was right on his game, producing the flicks and tricks all night. But the two young men who made a stellar impact on the outcome were Ruben Loftus Cheek and the teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Dynamo just couldn’t live with these two’s acceleration, movement and touch tight control. Loftus Cheek looked keen to prove himself to the manager, producing a classy performance, completing 6 of his 7 dribbles, winning 9 of his 13 duels, creating 2 chances and getting an assist to his name. The fact he ran circles around Sydorchuk and Shepeliev all night long just put the gloss on an already impressive display; while Hudson-Odoi continued his amazing run of form in the Europa League, adding a goal and an assist to his tally which now stands at 4 goals and 2 assists in just 414 minutes! Which means a direct goal involvement every 69 minutes for the 18-year-old.
However, the night belonged to Olivier Giroud, hat-trick hero who now has 9 Europa League scalps to his name so far and will be surely looking to add more in the rounds to come as Maurizio Sarri’s men now move on to the last 8 in a competition which they are (amongst the)favourites to win.