Malmo Not Messing Around:
From the outset it was clear that Malmo were not going to accept another score line akin to the 4-0 defeat they experienced in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge last month and matched the European champions in the first half for chances.
Hakim Ziyech started in his third consecutive match for Chelsea and was the brightest player for the team in darker blue in the opening stages. A flicked volley was saved at the near post by Malmo goalkeeper Johan Dahlin who produced a couple of good saves to keep Chelsea at bay but also spilled three shots that came at him.
Chelsea’s central midfield pairing of Jorginho, and Reuben Loftus-Cheek who started his first Champions League fixture in six years, were the engine rooms in their teams first half performance, the latter going on a commanding run to set up Kai Havertz for a shot having picked up the ball in his own half.
Mendy in the Mix:
Edouard Mendy, with four consecutive clean sheets behind him has had games this season without much meaningful action, but this aggressive Malmo side were keen to give him something to do and their fans something to shout about. Breaking Mendy’s duck was always going to be unlikely for a Malmo side who have not scored in the Champions League since 2015. But striker Antonio Colak took perhaps Malmo’s best chance well, striking a volley straight from a drop-ball with Chelsea’s concentration lapsing late in the first half.
After the Break:
The second half began more brightly for Chelsea, showing more dominance and dynamism in their play. On 56 minutes a brilliant Callum Hudson-Odoi burst through with the ball on the right-hand side, swinging in a tantalising cross which arrived at the feet of the on-running Ziyech for a simple tap in.
Despite conceding, Dahlin continued to single himself out as Malmo’s best player on the night and came off better in his exchanges with Chelsea forward Kai Havertz who had several shots saved by the keeper scrambling at his feet.
USA captain Christian Pulisic came on as a substitute for his first appearance for Chelsea since the opening day of the season against Crystal Palace which will encourage Chelsea fans and manager Thomas Tuchel as the busy winter months ahead approach. Pulisic and Ross Barkley replaced goal scorer Ziyech and goal creator Hudson-Odoi to offer the away team something different with Malmo continuing to press and give Chelsea a game.
Though Chelsea dominated the ball, more goals never really appeared forthcoming, and they had to work hard to come away with the win. Both Thiago Silva and Reuben Loftus-Cheek picked up bookings in the final twenty minutes of the game as the two sides scrapped away.
The final kick of the match saw Pulisic bursting though on goal and rounding the keep only to shoot wide, a run which was subsequently ruled offside. He and his Chelsea team mates will have been relieved to hear the referee’s whistle.
Chelsea end their evening second in Group H but their fans wait to see them play in either of this season’s away kits continues. Blue really is the colour.