Cesc Fabregas 9/10, Callum Hudson-Odoi 8/10 as Chelsea make easy work of 10-man PAOK
LONDON -- Chelsea secured their place in the Europa League round of 32 with a comprehensive 4-0 win over 10-man PAOK at Stamford Bridge, with Olivier Giroud netting twice, Alvaro Morata scoring from the bench and academy prospect Callum Hudson-Odoi marking his first senior start with a goal.
Stamford Bridge is desperate to see a home-grown star, and both Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek provided plenty of cause for excitement and optimism here. Ethan Ampadu also made his first appearance under Maurizio Sarri from the bench and both strikers got morale-boosting goals.
Davide Zappacosta and Andreas Christensen both appeared to pick up knocks during the second half, but this never looked like being anything other than an unqualified success for Chelsea from the moment that Yevhen Khacheridi was sent off in the seventh minute.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Sarri's decision to start Hudson-Odoi was a popular one and the 18-year-old's performance vindicated it emphatically, even aside from his goal. Loftus-Cheek also provided more evidence that he is progressing tactically under Sarri's guidance, and many of the starters got some rest ahead of Fulham.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 6 -- A glorified spectator all evening as Chelsea's man advantage neutered any threat PAOK might have otherwise carried. He did what was expected of him with a minimum of fuss.
DF Davide Zappacosta, 6 -- His crossing remains wildly erratic and better teams may exploit the space his attacking ambition leaves in defence. That said, he did nothing here to merit significant criticism prior to what looked like an injury-enforced withdrawal.
DF Gary Cahill, 7 -- Dealt with Zlatan Ibrahimovic-lookalike Aleksandar Prijovic easily, carried his usual threat from set pieces and even managed to get forward from open play in the second half, playing a part in creating Chelsea's third and fourth goals.
DF Andreas Christensen, 7 -- Calm and assured on the ball, he probably wants tougher tests than this to show Sarri that he can be more trusted than David Luiz. Recovered well physically after taking a nasty bang on the hip in the second half.
DF Emerson Palmieri, 7 -- Looks impressive going forward every time he plays and showcased his superior recovery speed to Marcos Alonso on a couple of occasions to stifle PAOK counters. Sarri can only be seeing something in training to doubt the former Roma man.
MF Ross Barkley, 7 -- Not his most decisive performance but he contributed to Chelsea's positive start by passing and driving forward with the ball at every opportunity, and using the ball sensibly to keep his team in control.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 9 -- He may not have the metronomic energy of Jorginho these days but Fabregas has a surgically precise right foot, and his wonderful passing range destroyed PAOK once they were reduced to 10 men. His assist for Giroud's second goal was particularly breathtaking.
MF Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 8 -- It's good to see him physically dominating men in the manner that he regularly dominated fellow teenagers throughout his youth career, and his all-round game is notably improving under Sarri. Only a couple of excellent Alexandros Paschalakis saves kept him off the scoresheet.
FW Pedro, 7 -- Buzzed around dangerously and used his energy to nip potential PAOK counters in the bud. His running in behind was also a threat, but his usually lethal finishing touch deserted him here.
FW Olivier Giroud, 8 -- Did everything here to embolden those who argue he should start over Morata in the games that matter. Took both of his goals brilliantly -- that's five in his last five for club and country now -- in addition to doing all of the little things to make his teammates better.
FW Callum Hudson-Odoi, 8 -- An opportunity he deserved and a night he will never forget. Looked a little too eager to impress early on, understandably, but soon calmed down and scored an impressive goal before clipping in an inviting cross for Morata to get in on the fun.
DF Ethan Ampadu, 6 -- Making his first appearance under Sarri at right-back in place of Zappacosta, he looked calm and assured in a game that was already over.
FW Willian, 6 -- Brought on in place of Pedro in the 66th minute, he carried a threat driving in from the left without troubling Paschalakis.
FW Alvaro Morata, 7 -- Must be worried about his place against Fulham on Sunday and didn't look pleased even when he scored a nice goal. His demeanour is as hard to figure out as his fluctuating performances.