Chelsea have put one foot in the Europa League’s quarter-finals with a 3-0 victory over Dynamo Kyiv at Stamford Bridge.
Goals from wingers Pedro, Willian and substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi either side of half-time secured the win for the Blues.
The defeat for the visitors leaves them without a win against English opposition away from home in all competitions, despite this being their 15th ever attempt, whilst victory for Maurizio Sarri’s side kept their 100% home record against teams from Ukraine.
Sarri made seven changes to his side from that who beat Fulham four days ago in the Premier League, with only Kepa Arrizabalaga, Andreas Christensen, Willian and Ross Barkley keeping their places.
It took 17 minutes for winger Pedro to open the scoring, a goal that oozed in class. Pedro passed the ball into the Blues’ Europa League top goalscorer Olivier Giroud, whose back-heeled return pass ran through the legs of Artem Shabanov before Pedro slotted in his first ever Europa League goal, nutmegging visiting goalkeeper, Denys Boyko.
English midfielder Ross Barkley came close to doubling their advantage less than 10 minutes later, only for his effort to be denied by the legs of Boyko at his near post.
Pedro was Chelsea’s real live-wire in the opening half and his volleyed effort at the end of a superb pass from captain David Luiz again forced Boyko into action.
He wasn’t the only Spaniard who tested Dynamo’s defence before half time. Marcos Alonso, one of the seven changes made by Maurizio Sarri from the side that beat Fulham last weekend, flashed a thunderous effort from outside of the penalty area towards goal, with only the back of an opposing defender standing in the way of his first goal in all competitions since August.
Just like he did against the Ukrainian side four years ago in the Champions League, Willian doubled the Blues’ advantage with a free-kick that was a carbon copy of his effort in front of the Matthew Harding Stand four years ago, marking his 100th career appearance in UEFA competitions in style.
Substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek almost added a third late on after linking up with Pedro, but he was unable to steer his effort on target.
Teenage sensation Hudson-Odoi made the most of his late cameo role, adding a third on the stroke of full-time, finishing off an excellent counter-attacking move after combining well with Loftus-Cheek and Pedro.
Chelsea will take their three-goal lead into next Thursday’s return leg at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kyiv.