Willian, N'Golo Kante ever-present for Chelsea in draw with Barcelona
Chelsea drew 1-1 with Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League tie but will be disappointed not to have won having taken a valuable lead.
After an even start which saw Eden Hazard fizz a shot just over from outside the box, the visitors began to dominate possession. For all their crisp passing and sharp movement, they were unable to get in behind Chelsea's defence though Paulinho should have scored when he headed wide when unmarked from eight-yards out. The Blues fought their way back into the game and were inches away from taking the lead when Willian's curling shot hit the post. Gerard Pique then missed another header for Barcelona before Willian struck the other post following good work from Hazard. On the cusp of half-time then Hazard volleyed a difficult chance a fraction over.
The second half began with the La Liga leaders controlling possession without actually doing much with it, as Chelsea maintained their defensive discipline. Antonio Conte's side then gave themselves a sizeable foothold in the tie when Willian slid an inch-perfect shot inside the far post to put them 1-0 up. Barcelona's intensity subsequently increased and they pounced on a catastrophic mistake from Andreas Christensen to level things up through Lionel Messi and take an edge into the second leg.
The organisation and application from every player had to be spot on and it was for the entire 90 minutes. Chelsea barely allowed their illustrious opponents any glimpse of goal and always looked dangerous on the counterattack. A similar performance at Camp Nou might just be enough to see them through.
Trying to play out from the goalkeeper proved dangerous at times as Chelsea rarely chose to use Marcos Alonso's aerial ability as an out ball. There were also a few careless square balls across the box, one of which proved costly.
Manager rating out of 10
9 -- Ahead of kickoff, many questions were asked over an ambitious formation and the absence of a centre-forward but Conte was fully vindicated by his selection. The team was extremely well-drilled defensively while being rapid and precise on the break.
Player ratings (1-10, 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 7 -- Remarkably had very little to do apart from claim the occasional cross and had little chance with the goal.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 8 -- Rugged and resolute, he merited his selection ahead of Gary Cahill. Made a couple of lung-busting runs upfield to break the siege.
DF Andreas Christensen, 6 -- Will be haunted by his inexplicable pass across the area that resulted in the equalizer, though hopefully he won't dwell on it. Otherwise had an excellent game snuffing out several of Messi's forays forward.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 8 -- Captain for the evening, he led by example. Wasn't shy about stepping forward to thwart any attacks from building.
MF Marcos Alonso, 7 -- Understandably saw his attacking instincts curtailed though his excellent ball skills helped him escape some tight situations when hemmed in.
MF Victor Moses, 8 -- Probably his best performance of the season, as he showcased some good reading of the play and sharp tackling. Got forward when possible and showed positivity taking on opponents.
MF N'Golo Kante, 8 -- A blur of motion hounding Barcelona's midfield. Sometimes found himself chasing shadows but was always snapping at heels.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 7 -- Saw little of the ball but used it well enough when he did. Almost unlocked the Barca defence only to slightly overhit his pass to Hazard.
FW Pedro Rodriguez, 7 -- Never stopped running whether covering space or supplementing the attack. Wasn't particularly threatening but a useful presence on the pitch.
FW Willian, 9 -- Chelsea's most dangerous player on the night, he fully deserved his wonderful goal having twice hit the woodwork. Was also seen winning headers and tackles in an excellent all-round display.
FW Eden Hazard, 8 -- Had his work cut out at times as a false 9 yet still regularly impacted the game and had two decent efforts on goal. Linked well with Willian and his menace saw him singled out for much cynical fouling.
FW Alvaro Morata, NR -- Brought on late he had little impact other than to get booked for dissent.
MF, Danny Drinkwater, NR -- Replaced Fabregas's tired legs to provide ballast in midfield.
Phil is one of ESPN's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @PhilLythell.