Chelsea continued their clean start to their Europa League campaign, narrowly defeating Vidi FC 1-0, with Alvaro Morata the thankful scorer.
Complete dominance as expected ensued from the first whistle, yet it was far from a straightforward affair. Confidence oozed throughout the side, however, the evening as a whole was a frustrating one with the opposition a nuisance to break down.
In the opening exchanges, Pedro’s performance personified how Maurizio Sarri has begun to transform Chelsea. He ghosted into pockets whilst dictating play in the final third. A neat reverse ball into Willian could only result in a Chelsea corner following a timely deflection.
As Sarri’s side moulded a beautiful move from one side of the pitch to another, Pedro turned provider again with an almost identical pass this time into the feet of Morata. Bearing down on the goalkeeper, Tomas Tujvel, the striker should have scored, yet chipped his shot wide.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek had a huge penalty claim waved away by referee Miroslav Zelinka. Following the England midfielder’s magnificent dribble into the penalty area, he was seemingly bundled to the floor by Paulo Vinicius, yet the officials only signalled a corner.
However, whilst the Hungarians were second best, they managed to carve an open a rare chance. Loic Nego niggled his way behind the Chelsea back line, cutting inside to offload a weak shot into the virtually untested arms of Kepa Arrizabalaga.
A similar pattern ensued in the second half; whilst Chelsea dominated every statistic other than the scoreline, Vidi were respectably stubborn at keeping their hosts at bay.
With a trying evening growing gradually shorter, a huge sigh of relief ringed around Stamford Bridge as Chelsea finally unlocked Vidi’s rear guard 20 minutes from time. Cesc Fabregas lofted a cross into a dangerous area, followed by a flicked header from Willian. Morata needed only one chance to lash the ball into the roof of the net for his second goal of the season.
The game was far from dead and buried, with Vidi causing a scare moments from full time. Chelsea’s backline were caught napping as substitute Istvan Kovacs kept Arrizablaga on his toes with a smart save low to his right.
After Ross Barkley flicked the crossbar with a smart header, Morata should have doubled his and Chelsea’s tally when he fired straight across the face of the goal before time was up.
A tough evening ended with Chelsea top of topping Group L to maintain Sarri’s unbeaten start to his tenure in charge.
The Blues’ next game is on Sunday the 7th of October away to Southampton, their next Europa League clash at home to BATE Borisov on the 25th of this month.
By Nathaniel Kay at Stamford Bridge