Chelsea’s hopes of reaching the last 16 of this season’s UEFA Europa League have been given a huge boost after The Blues beat Malmo FF 2-1 in Sweden in the first leg of their last 32 tie last night.
Goals from Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud helped Maurizio Sarri’s men into a two-goal lead and while Anders Christiansen pulled one back late on, The Blues are still in a favourable position to qualify.
It took Chelsea the best part of half an hour to cause any real danger in the opposition box, Giroud heading wide from a Cesar Azpilicueta cross in what was the first shot on goal of the match.
That effort was something of a warning sign for the hosts. Two minutes later, Pedro played in teammate Barkley who fired his close range strike into the back of the net.
Malmo responded with what seemed like wave after wave of attacks before the break but Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga remained largely untroubled as The Blues ended the first half with a one-goal lead.
The hosts made a positive start to the second half and Soren Rieks tested Arrizabalaga with a shot from range before Andreas Vindheim headed a good chance wide.
Chelsea doubled their lead just before the hour mark when Willian teed up Giroud to make it 2-0 from just yards out before Barkley went close to adding a third but could only direct his effort at the opposition goalkeeper.
Malmo pulled a goal back 10 minutes from time when Christiansen slotted home following a swift counter attack. The Swedes were unable to find a second goal but they retain some hope ahead of next Thursday’s second leg at Stamford Bridge.