Kepa a 9/10 as his breathtaking saves secure win for wasteful Chelsea
Chelsea maintained their unbeaten start to the season and 100 percent start to their Europa League campaign with a 1-0 win over Hungarian champions Vidi on Thursday in what proved to be a night of frustration at Stamford Bridge.
Alvaro Morata scored the only goal of the game, but once again the Spaniard failed to make the most of the chances that were presented to him. It was a game that the Blues should have won comfortably, but in the end they had Kepa Arrizabalaga to thank for sparing their blushes, the 24-year old justifying his world-record transfer fee with a couple of outstanding saves.
Victory puts Chelsea in control of Group L and qualification for the next phase of the competition well within reach. It will be hoped that Morata finally finding the back of the net will give him the confidence boost needed to do it again the next time Maurizio Sarri selects him.
Seventy-five percent possession, 18 corners and just a solitary goal tells its own story. It's a recurring theme for Chelsea and Sarri and one to which at present there seems to be no immediate solution.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Sarri made eight changes from the side that drew 1-1 at the weekend with Liverpool, though many Chelsea supporters were hugely disappointed that the Italian did not choose to select promising youngsters like Ethan Ampadu and Callum Hudson-Odoi. The Italian opted instead to go with experienced squad players who it could be reasoned got the job done, but it should have been easier, and the Blues boss, while pleased with the victory, will be as frustrated as the fans by the manner in which it was achieved and the buck for that stops with him.
Player ratings (1-10, 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 9 -- With Chelsea hogging possession, it was important for Kepa to stay focussed on the game in case danger presented itself, which it did on a couple of occasions. Made a couple of breathtaking saves and given that the Blues only mustered one goal, deserves man-of-the-match plaudits as a result.
DF Davide Zappacosta, 5 -- Had little to do defensively but conceded possession when called on and was culpable of overrunning the ball when going forward.
DF Gary Cahill, 7 -- The pick of Chelsea's defenders, some irony there considering that a couple of weeks ago his career at Stamford Bridge was deemed by many as being over. The Blues required an experienced, dependable head at the back, and Cahill provided it.
DF Andreas Christensen, 6 -- Lacked composure at times, particularly in the first half, putting Kepa under unnecessary pressure through miscommunication. Improved after the break.
DF Emerson, 6 -- Made some deft runs forward and created a decent chance to score for himself early on, but was let down by poor finishing.
MF Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 7 -- A first start of the season ended in frustration and substitution midway through the second half. Looked comfortable enough in Chelsea's midfield and linked up well with Mateo Kovacic and Willian. Might have won a penalty when bursting into the Vidi box, but the referee ignored his claims when he was bundled to the floor.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 8 -- The main hub of Chelsea's creativity. Key contribution to the game was initiating the passage of play with a precise and beautifully flighted ball that brought about Morata's winner.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 7 -- Linked up well with Willian and Pedro in the first half as Chelsea took the game to Vidi, and was equally effective working in tandem with Eden Hazard when he entered the fray to maintain pressure on the visitors.
FW Pedro, 6 -- Sharp early on and tested the Vidi defence, but looked increasingly frustrated as Chelsea toiled to make a breakthrough. Hooked 10 minutes after the break as Sarri decided to play his trump card Hazard early.
FW Willian, 7 -- Saw a lot of the ball as Chelsea dominated possession and set pieces. Squandered a couple of chances to break the deadlock in the first half but was involved in the buildup to Morata's goal, flicking a neat header on for the Spaniard to score.
FW Alvaro Morata, 7 -- Squandered and easy chance to score in the first half and was clearly annoyed at the fact he could not make the most of the opportunities that came his way. A booking for dissent in the second half could have spelled time for Sarri to replace him, but the Italian persisted with his misfiring striker who finally repaid his faith by firing home the only goal of the game.
FW Eden Hazard, 8 -- Entered the fray from the bench earlier than expected and immediately brought an altogether more threatening presence to Chelsea's attack, which would ultimately help grind out a win.
MF Ross Barkley, 7 -- Replaced Loftus-Cheek and brought greater dynamism to Chelsea's forward play. Unlucky not to score when a flashing header dashed against the crossbar.
FW Victor Moses, NR -- Replaced Willian for the final phase of the game but didn't bring the added creativity and influence needed to improve Chelsea's narrow margin of victory.