Chelsea cruise past Malmo despite Werner and Lukaku injuries
Chelsea eased to a 4-0 victory over Malmo in Champions League Group H tie on Wednesday despite losing two of their forwards Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner to injuries in the match played at Stamford Bridge.
After Andreas Christensen scored his first Chelsea goal in his 137th appearance for the club, Lukaku had to go off with an apparent ankle injury after winning a penalty that was fired home by Jorginho.
Kai Havertz replaced the Belgium international and, after Werner was substituted due to a hamstring issue, Havertz increased their lead early in the second half.
Ballon d’Or nominee Jorginho converted another penalty to round off the scoring before the hour mark, though Chelsea remain three points behind group leaders Juventus after the Italian side left it late to beat Zenit 1-0 in Russia.
The offside flag spared Werner’s blushes after a miskick inside the six-yard box but Chelsea was soon ahead when Christensen volleyed fellow center-back Thiago Silva’s cross into the top-right corner.
Chelsea was awarded a penalty when Lasse Nielsen scythed down Lukaku in the box and Jorginho confidently sent his spot-kick straight down the middle.
The Blues suffered another injury blow before half-time with Werner appearing to pull his hamstring while sprinting into the box to support Havertz.
Havertz was unable to take that opportunity but he got the better of Ismael Diawara, who replaced goalkeeper Johan Dahlin at half-time – three minutes after the restart, dinking fellow substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi’s pass in off the post.
Referee Francois Letexier pointed to the spot again after Eric Larsson bundled Antonio Rudiger over in the box and Jorginho once more produced a staggering finish.
Tuchel took the chance to give N’Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta, and Ben Chilwell a rest in the closing stages, with Chelsea seeing out a resounding victory at a canter.
With five games to play in the next 17 days, it is unlikely Tuchel will rush Lukaku and Werner back into action even if their injuries are only minor.
However, the two strikers have struggled for form in recent weeks and Christensen’s goal made him Chelsea’s 14th different goalscorer this season.
Havertz also proved himself adept at leading the line, scoring once, and playing a key role in winning the second penalty.
This was Tuchel’s 10th Champions League game in charge of Chelsea since joining in January and having kept a clean sheet they have conceded just three times under the German. It is the joint-fewest through a coach’s first 10 games for a single club in the competition, joining Fabio Capello (Milan) and Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid).
No player has scored more goals for Chelsea under Tuchel than Havertz – though Jorginho and Mason Mount also have six. The former Bayer Leverkusen man was a persistent threat during his 70 minutes on the pitch, as he scored and created the chance for Rudiger that resulted in the second penalty.
Even if Lukaku and Werner are unavailable, Chelsea will feel confident about their chances of securing a result at home to Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday.
The next Champions League fixture in this group will see Chelsea travel to Malmo while Juventus welcomes Zenit at the Allianz Stadium in two weeks’ time.
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