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Hakim Ziyech strike takes Chelsea closer to Champions League last-16

Hakim Ziyech leads Chelsea celebrations against Malmo on Tuesday, 2 November. | PHOTO: Getty Images |

Chelsea closed in on a slot in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 thanks to a 1-0 away win over Malmo on Tuesday night, a goal scored by winger Hakim Ziyech.

After comfortably winning 4-0 in the previous meeting on matchday three against Malmo, the Champions League holders found life tougher at Eleda Stadion without the extra attacking impetus of the injured Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner, as well as the ill Mason Mount who did not travel.

Hakim Ziyech struck what proved to be the winner early in the second half after being picked out superbly by Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Malmo 0-1 Chelsea

Chelsea players celebrate after Hakim Ziyech scored the opener against Malmo in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, 2 November. | PHOTO: Getty Images |

Despite bossing 74 percent of the first-half possession, Chelsea found it difficult to pick their way through the Malmo defense, with speculative efforts from Ziyech and Andreas Christensen and a shot on the turn from Cesar Azpilicueta about as close as they came to breaking the deadlock.

Malmo looked a threat when breaking forward, too, with Antonio-Mirko Colak sending a volley wide after being picked out by Sergio Pena’s clever ball.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, making his first Champions League start for six years, in which he generally impressed stung the palms of goalkeeper Johan Dahlin before Marcos Alonso’s flick-on at a corner was deflected just wide.

Chelsea, at last, got the breakthrough 11 minutes into the second half, Ziyech side-footing home a simple finish after a terrific low cross from Hudson-Odoi, who had surged into space down the right.

Malmo 0-1 Chelsea

Hakim Ziyech celebrates after scoring for Chelsea against Malmo in which was his eighth UEFA Champions League goal in his career. | PHOTO: Football London |

Thiago Silva’s improvised effort was cleared off the line as Chelsea pursued a second, which Kai Havertz should really have delivered when he ran through on Dahlin’s goal but failed to slot the ball beneath him.

The win puts Chelsea on nine points from four Group H matches, meaning one more point from their final games against leaders Juventus and Zenit will see them through.

Malmo cannot now qualify for the last 16, but they could still claim third place in the group and drop into the Europa League.

This was far from Chelsea at their slickest, but Ziyech took his opportunity to impress against stubborn opposition to continue the winning run for Thomas Tuchel’s side.

The 28-year-old had a game-high four shots and five chances created in his time on the pitch, while his eighth Champions League goal drew him level with record-holder Marouane Chamakh for Moroccan players in the competition.

Malmo never looked likely to snatch an equalizer once Ziyech put Chelsea ahead and Dahlin’s nine saves helped to keep the deficit to a minimum.

Still, Chelsea was not as effective in possession as boss Thomas Tuchel will have wanted, which will need to be addressed before matchday five against Juventus, should they qualify as number one from Group H.

Chelsea host Juventus on matchday five at Stamford Bridge, with Malmo at home to Zenit. More immediately, the Blues take on Burnley at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Saturday ahead of the November international break.

Nathan Sialah is a journalist by profession with interest in politics, sports, cryptocurrency and human interests with 5 years experience in Radio and Digital Journalism. This has helped Sialah develop a responsible approach to any task he undertakes or any situation that he is presented with.

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