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Chelsea 1-0 Zenit: Romelu Lukaku gives Blues win in Champions League

Lukaku’s header was his first ever goal for Chelsea in the Champions League

Chelsea opened their defence of the Champions League with a victory as Romelu Lukaku finally pierced Zenit St Petersburg’s stubborn resistance at Stamford Bridge.

Lukaku, a £97.5m summer signing from Inter Milan, has already demonstrated his goal threat in the Premier League and was on the mark again with his first goal for Chelsea in the competition they won for the second time against Manchester City in June.

Chelsea were made to work hard as Zenit dug in but manager Thomas Tuchel’s side stepped up the pace after the interval, Lukaku breaking the deadlock when he headed in at the far post from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross in the 69th minute.

The holders deserved the victory but Zenit missed a glorious chance to snatch a point when substitute Artem Dzyuba slid wide from six yards as he tried to turn in Sardar Azmoun’s cross late on.

Chelsea made to work for win

Chelsea’s victory was not a surprise given their status as Champions League holders and their impressive start to the season but this showed they are more than willing to do the dirty work to get the job done when required.

And it was Lukaku, the talisman, who showed once again what a difference he will make to Chelsea by providing the cutting edge they often lacked last season, even though they won Europe’s elite competition in Porto.

Lukaku’s chances were limited as Zenit defended well and with real resilience but he pounced on the first opportunity he was given to score with a towering header.

Chelsea struggled to make any impression in the first half but it was clear Tuchel had ordered his players to move through the gears and they were much more forceful after the break.

If Lukaku is the main man in attack, it was defender Antonio Rudiger who set the tone at both ends to lift the Chelsea fans inside Stamford Bridge.

Rudiger lifted the noise levels with a surging run from inside his own half just after the re-start which ended with a shot that flashed just wide. He then made a vital challenge at the other end as Zenit’s Iranian forward Azmoun threatened to give the visitors a shock lead, celebrating his interception with a fist pump to the crowd who appreciate the German’s uncompromising style.

It was not Chelsea at their most impressive but, as they did against Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday, this is now a side that is almost the complete package. They are a side who find a way to win and Tuchel will be delighted to get three points on the board in the Champions League, especially as the other European superpower in Group H, Juventus, started their campaign with an impressive 3-0 win against Malmo in Sweden.

Tuchel will know there is much more to come from a Chelsea side tipped for success at home and abroad this season and he will be more than satisfied to start with three points.

Player of the match

LukakuRomelu Lukaku

Chelsea

  1. Squad number9Player nameLukaku

  2. Squad number2Player nameRüdiger

  3. Squad number8Player nameKovacic

  4. Squad number28Player nameAzpilicueta

  5. Squad number4Player nameChristensen

  6. Squad number29Player nameHavertz

  7. Squad number16Player nameMendy

  8. Squad number5Player nameJorginho

  9. Squad number24Player nameJames

  10. Squad number3Player nameAlonso

  11. Squad number6Player nameThiago Silva

  12. Squad number21Player nameChilwell

  13. Squad number22Player nameZiyech

  14. Squad number19Player nameMount

  15. Squad number12Player nameLoftus-Cheek

Zenit St Petersburg

  1. Squad number3Player nameDouglas Santos

  2. Squad number2Player nameChistyakov

  3. Squad number44Player nameRakitskiy

  4. Squad number10Player nameMalcom

  5. Squad number7Player nameAzmoun

  6. Squad number5Player nameBarrios

  7. Squad number19Player nameSutormin

  8. Squad number22Player nameDzyuba

  9. Squad number64Player nameKravtsov

  10. Squad number8Player nameWendel

  11. Squad number11Player nameClaudinho

  12. Squad number21Player nameErokhin

  13. Squad number1Player nameKritsyuk

  14. Squad number14Player nameKuzyaev

  15. Squad number4Player nameKrugovoy

  16. Squad number17Player nameMostovoy

Line-ups

Chelsea

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 16Mendy
  • 28AzpilicuetaBooked at 45minsSubstituted forThiago Silvaat 83′minutes
  • 4Christensen
  • 2Rüdiger
  • 24James
  • 8Kovacic
  • 5Jorginho
  • 3AlonsoSubstituted forChilwellat 83′minutes
  • 19MountSubstituted forLoftus-Cheekat 90+3′minutes
  • 22ZiyechSubstituted forHavertzat 63′minutes
  • 9Lukaku

Substitutes

  • 1Arrizabalaga
  • 6Thiago Silva
  • 11Werner
  • 12Loftus-Cheek
  • 14Chalobah
  • 17Saúl
  • 18Barkley
  • 20Hudson-Odoi
  • 21Chilwell
  • 29Havertz
  • 31Sarr
  • 36Bergstrom

Zenit St Petersburg

Formation 5-4-1

  • 1Kritsyuk
  • 19Sutormin
  • 5Barrios
  • 2Chistyakov
  • 44RakitskiyBooked at 62minsSubstituted forKrugovoyat 88′minutes
  • 3dos Santos Justino de Melo
  • 10MalcomSubstituted forDzyubaat 75′minutes
  • 8Valle da SilvaSubstituted forErokhinat 76′minutes
  • 14KuzyaevSubstituted forKravtsovat 82′minutes
  • 11Rodrigues Parisi LeonelSubstituted forMostovoyat 88′minutes
  • 7Azmoun

Substitutes

  • 4Krugovoy
  • 17Mostovoy
  • 21Erokhin
  • 22Dzyuba
  • 41Kerzhakov
  • 64Kravtsov
  • 71Odoevskiy
  • 94Khotulev

Referee:
Bartosz Frankowski

Attendance:
39,252

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