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Football

Chelsea held in the Champions League in Potter’s first match

Chelsea 1 1 Salzburg
Chelsea forwards Raheem Sterling and Aubameyang celebrate Sterling's goal during the match. | PHOTO: Getty Images |
  • Chelsea hosted RB Salzburg in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night at Stamford Bridge
  • The match was the first game for Graham Potter as Chelsea manager since his appointment
  • Chelsea dominated proceedings but could only find a goal in the Champions League clash

Chelsea remain winless in the UEFA Champions League this season after being held to a 1-1 draw at home to RB Salzburg in what was Graham Potter’s first game as Chelsea head coach.

The Blues fell to a shock 1-0 loss at Dinamo Zagreb in their Group E opener last week in Croatia, with that proving to be former manager Thomas Tuchel’s final match in charge.

Potter’s tenure looked like getting off to a winning start against Salzburg when Raheem Sterling opened the scoring from Chelsea’s first shot on target early in the second half in a clinical finishing.

Chelsea head coach Graham Potter

Chelsea head coach Graham Potter oversaw his first match as the Blues’ boss in the UEFA Champions League clash against RB Salzburg at Stamford Bridge. | PHOTO: Getty Images |

But Salzburg, who also held group leaders AC Milan last week and are now unbeaten in nine games in all competitions, hit back through Noah Okafor in the 75th minute to leave Potter and his players frustrated – despite dominating.

Chelsea dominated the opening half in the first ever meeting between these sides, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mason Mount were wayward from the best of their chances.

The hosts were given a fright shortly before half-time when Benjamin Sesko forced Kepa Arrizabalaga – making successive starts for Chelsea, into a low save from Salzburg’s only effort of the first half.

Potter opted against changes at the break and was rewarded in the 48th minute as Mount’s pass ran through to Sterling, who curled a delightful shot into the bottom-right corner.

Chelsea 1-1 RB Salzburg

Chelsea players Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) and Raheem Sterling celebrate after the latter scored against RB Salzburg in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday September 14 2022. | PHOTO: Getty Images |

Chelsea were unable to push on from that breakthrough goal, though, and Okafor slotted past Kepa to level up after Thiago Silva failed to cut out the danger prior to Junior Adamu crossing.

Potter had six days to prepare for this match following the postponement of last Saturday’s trip to Fulham and opted to tinker with the formation by going with a hybrid 3-5-2 – at odds with the 4-3-3 the team sheet suggested.

Chelsea may have dominated possession, finishing with 72 per cent of the ball, but only four of their 17 shots were on target and they gifted Salzburg their leveller.

The Blues find themselves bottom of Group E after two rounds of matches and are three points behind leaders Milan, whom they now face home and away.

As part of Potter’s formation change, moving to something close to the system he regularly used at Brighton and Hove Albion, Sterling was tasked with playing in a left-sided wing-back role.

The England forward scored regardless, getting the Potter era up and running with a strike that took him to 250 club career goal involvements in all competitions (158 goals, 92 assists).

While not at their best, Chelsea looked comfortable enough when in the lead until some poor defending from Silva allowed Adamu to tee up Okafor for the leveller.

Salzburg forward Okafor has now scored five goals in his past six Champions League appearances – only Erling Haaland has scored more (eight) for Salzburg in the competition.

Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Liverpool has been postponed, so they now have a long wait before facing Crystal Palace. Salzburg will be at home to Rapid Vienna in the Austrian Bundesliga on Sunday.

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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