AC Milan 0-2 Chelsea: Blues cruise to San Siro victory
MILAN, ITALY - OCTOBER 11: Jorginho of Chelsea FC celebrates with his team-mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League group E match between AC Milan and Chelsea FC at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on October 11, 2022 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Chelsea took a huge stride towards qualification for the Champions League last 16 with a comfortable victory over ten-man AC Milan.

Two moments of magic from Mason Mount in the first half did the trick for the Blues, as he first won a penalty that saw former team mate Fikayo Tomori dismissed for the hosts, then set up the second for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Blues cruised through the second half with little trouble, and now go top of group E on 7 points, with games to come against RB Leipzig and Dinamo Zagreb.

Story of the Match

On Chelsea’s first visit to San Siro since 1999, Graham Potter sent his charges out in a 3-4-2-1. Trevoh Chalobah retained his spot in the back three after an impressive display against Wolves on Saturday, while Kepa was named as the starting goalkeeper ahead of Edouard Mendy for the third game in a row.

Milan had been outclassed at Stamford Bridge last week, but fresh from a morale-boosting win over Juventus at the weekend, they looked fired up from the start here, snapping into challenges and limiting space for the visitors. 

Then, just when they looked to have given themselves a platform from which to build, the hosts fell behind. After a frantic but chance-less opening 20 minutes, with no shots on goal registered for either side, Chelsea took the lead after suberb work by Mount. 

The England man first drew his marker Tomori out of his deep position, then span in behind him before being receiving a pass from Reece James in the inside right channel. With Mount clean through on goal and Tomori on the wrong side of him, the defender could do little but tug at his compatriots shirt, pulling him off balance. 

Mount still got to the ball but saw a penalty awarded anyway, and worse still for Tomori, as there had been no attempt to play the ball, out came the red card.

The defender, so impressive since moving to Italy last summer, protested long and hard – the contact had been minimal – however no reprieve came from the VAR. Jorginho dispatched the spot kick with aplomb, completing a double whammy for the hosts, whose energetic start suddenly felt a long time ago.

Football matches are decided on such moments, and another former blue Olivier Giroud let his own pass him by just before the half hour mark. With Chelsea initially struggling to make their numerical advantage count, Brahim Diaz picked out the Frenchman barely six yards out and all on his own, but he somehow contrived to send his header wide of the goal.  

Punishment for the forward’s error arrived swiftly. Mount’s movement continued to cause Milan problems and after Matteo Gabbia was booked for hauling him down, Mateo Kovacic picked out the forward on the edge of the box, and his first time flick – probably meant for Raheem Sterling - put Aubameyang in on goal.

The Gabonese swept home first time for his third goal in a Chelsea shirt, and 35 minutes in, the game already looked done.

Just before half time, yet another clever turn from Mount on the edge of the box created space for a shot that Ciprian Tatarusanu had to turn behind at his near post. It would prove to be his final action, though he had already done more than enough damage.

The closing stages of the first half felt like a keep-ball session for Chelsea, but both sides emerged for the second period with renewed energy. Kalidou Koulibaly had to be alert to deny Milan a certain goal after good work down the right by Dest and Sandro Tonali. Then, half time substitute Conor Gallagher, on for the cautioned Mount, screwed a shot into the side netting from a narrow angle after rounding Tatarusanu.

With Milan’s depleted numbers, Chelsea were able to find space with increasing ease, especially down the left hand side. Ben Chilwell flashed a low cross across the six yard box, before Mateo Kovacic’s effort from the edge of the box hit Aubameyang when it looked to be going in.

Just before the hour, a huge chance for Milan. The pacy Rafael Leão, previously subdued, finally had his moment as he breezed past Gallagher and James on the left-hand side, before sending over a cross that found Dest in acres of space at the back post. The US international should have at least hit the target but screwed an ugly shot well over the bar.

James, so impressive in this campaign, had twisted his knee moments earlier in an awkward landing and promptly hobbled off to be replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek. With no stretcher required the immediate diagnosis looked optimistic, though there will be concern for both Chelsea and England fans until the extent of the damage is known.

As the game drifted into sleepy territory, Chelsea keeping the ball comfortably against increasingly tired opponents, one final Aubameyang chance went begging after he delayed too long when played through by Loftus-Cheek.

In truth, Chelsea had long since done enough, and  never looked remotely in trouble here, controlling the game with 70% of the possession.

The ease with which they swatted aside one of European football’s great names will please Graham Potter. His side have now won four games in a row and are quietly starting to put together some momentum. 

This is a side with quality all over the pitch and they may yet profit this season from going under the radar.

Player of the match – Mason Mount

Mount only completed 45 minutes here but that was more than enough to win the game for Chelsea with two moments of brilliance to create both goals. 

Milan simply could not deal with the in-form England man’s movement and will have been glad to see the back of him at half-time.

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