Bate Borisov 0-1 Chelsea: Europa League – as it happened

John Brewin on 8 November 2018

And here is Dominic Fifield’s report from the game.

A host of other Europa League stuff tonight from us. Nick Ames is following Brendan’s boys.

Paul Doyle is watching “The” Arsenal.

Meanwhile, in other news, trouble at Everton.

Giroud speaks after scoring the winner and ending his six-month drought.

That was the target. The manager said we must finish top of the group. We should have been more efficient but we kept a clean sheet. They had a good team cohesion in defence and it was difficult to find solutions. It’s true that I was hoping to score soon. I came back late from the World Cup and I had lost a bit of efficiency and luck. But you have to keep going. It was a good cross from Emerson. That is what we need more of.

Bate a little unlucky there, having defended well and actually created the better chances on the balance of things. Their goalkeeper may rue that Giroud winner, and it was Evgeni Berezkin who hit that shot which rattled off the woodwork at the death. Kepa maybe had it covered but it was close.

Full-time: Bate Borisov 0-1 Chelsea.

Chelsea qualify after winning all four games. This was underwhelming stuff, though perhaps the conditions dictated it was going to be a slog. The last 32 awaits in February and Giroud has broken his duck.

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90+3 mins: That was close! Emerson concedes a corner, and suddenly the Chelsea defence opens up as the ball drops to the edge of the box. The ball cracks off the woodwork and is cleared, and hurriedly.

90+2 mins: Chelsea try to seal it when Willian chips in from the right. Giroud is in the wrong place for his flick to have any chance of resulting in a goal.

90 mins: There will be three minutes of time added on. Tuominem, who has played well since coming on, tries to get Moukam away but his fellow sub had strayed offside.

88 mins: Zappacosta makes what has been a rare overlap tonight before Willian tries to make an incursion that come against the usual wall of day-glo yellow shirts. Bate have been quite decent in defence, though that has come at the cost of attacking in any sort of numbers.

86 mins: Bate had a set-piece chance but again made poor use of it. The shot that comes in eventually does nothing to trouble Kepa, who takes his time in restarting.

84 mins: Final Chelsea change: Hudson-Odoi, who was 18 yesterday, comes on for Pedro. Nice present from the boss.

83 mins: Chelsea are clinging on a little here and are a little fortunate their opponent is so short of quality. The fluency has not been there and the passing in the final third has been largely hopeless.

81 mins: Chelsea should have scored with a three on one but Scherbitski came out to collect the ball when Pedro overhit what looked a final easy ball. On the bench, Hleb looks absolutely beat.

79 mins: Final Bate sub. Berezkin comes on for Hleb, who looked well of the pace, rather sadly. Something of a shock he lasted so long in this game.

78 mins: Giroud looks a little discomfited by a heavy challenge by Volkov. He shakes it off, though, and will carry on.

76 mins: Another Bate change. On comes Moukam to inject some pace into the attack. Maksim Skavysh comes off, having been among Bate’s livelier players.

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74 mins: Tuominem’s next touch is far better as forces Kovacic into losing possession, but again, the ball is conceded cheaply. Willian tees up Jorginho for a shot, which he cannot keep down.

73 mins: Tuominem’s first touch is poor, handing back the chance for Chelsea to resume their session of ball retention.

72 mins: Bate change: Signevich, clearly knackered, makes way for Tuominem, the Finn.

71 mins: Jorginho is doing his job of attempting to kill the game by passing and passing. Bate have done some serious chasing.

69 mins: This game is slightly more open than the trench warfare of the first half. Bate, though, don’t seem to have the legs to force the issue. Another Chelsea game seems much more likely than an equaliser.

68 mins: Bate have a free-kick chance at which Kepa looks a little anxious. He needn’t have worried, as Stasevich’s ball in was utterly hopeless.

66 mins: Willian goes down the left, as Chelsea try to force another one. The ball eventually finds itself to Barkley, who tries another pot-shot.

65 mins: Elsewhere in the Europa League, it is Spartak Moscow 4-3 Rangers. Some game there.

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64 mins: Here comes Kovacic and to nobody’s surprise, Loftus-Cheek comes off. Don’t expect to start against Everton this weekend, mate.

63 mins: Jorginho’s corner is superb and Giroud has made a mess of a headed chance he should have done better with.

62 mins: That was Hazard’s last contribution, as Willian comes on for him.

61 mins: Hazard’s touch lets him down before Barkley booms in a shot wide of the posts.

60 mins: What a chance for Bate! Signevich lays it across, Skavysh dummies and Rios, the goal gaping blazes over. Sloppy again from Chelsea, a Sarri change must come soon.

58 mins: Skavysh surge forward, and then Signevich, who looked more than a tad offside, hit the woodwork. That resulted from a Loftus-Cheek error, conceding possession in midfield, the reason he doesn’t get in the Premier League team.

Signevich hits the post.
Signevich hits the post. Photograph: Sergei Grits/AP

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56 mins: A reminder that was Giroud’s first goal of the season, his first since May. In between times, he won the World Cup.

54 mins: Will that draw out Bate? Volkov’s reaction is to have a hack at Giroud. They do commit men forward but Giroud cannot find his way though despite being given time to turn.

Goal! Bate Borisov 0-1 Chelsea (Giroud, 52)

Jorginho starts the move - who else? - Emerson heads down the left wing and crosses for Giroud who heads downwards. Scherbitski might have done better but Giroud doesn’t care. The smile of Clark Gable as he celebrates with team-mates.

Giroud heads home the opener.
Giroud heads home the opener. Photograph: Sergei Grits/AP

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50 mins: Chelsea force a corner and take it short before Pedro is fouled. Hazard tries to dig one out but it is hit too strongly and drifts out. Disappointing from him.

48 mins: Loftus-Cheek tries to play a pass through the eye of the needle. Bate still defending in deep numbers. And are likely to do so until the final whistle.

47 mins: Hazard was only scheduled to play 50 minutes or so. Let’s see how much longer he is given though he looked sprightly enough before. Our man in Barysaw has just seen a mosquito fly through the fog.

46 mins: Back underway, and that 69% possession must surely tell for Chelsea at some point? No subs made as yet. Both teams unchanged.

Eni Aluko, of Juventus, saw Manchester United’s comeback last night.

Here’s some half-time reading from the excellent Nick Ames.

That's half-time

45 mins: No time added on, which is a rarity. The ref had seen enough of a game played in the soggiest of conditions and a little damp with it. Chelsea had all the ball but Bate had the best chance.

44 mins: Of Bate’s players, Baha, who hit the woodwork, looks the most likely. Hleb, sadly, is a tad off the pace, and Chelsea’s clever midfielders are giving him nothing to work with.

43 mins: More frustration for Giroud as a flick fails to come off. He also doesn’t look too happy with some of the heavy duty attention he is receiving.

42 mins: Bate attempt a Pulisian long throw, but Rios is no Rory Delap and Chelsea get the ball clear with ease. Meat and drink for Gary Cahill.

40 mins: Loftus-Cheek forces a corner. Giroud climbed highest to meet it and flicked a header with a great leap. The angle was not right for him and it drifts wide. The goal drought remains in session.

39 mins: Chelsea still playing across those deep Bate lines; it has been a far better performance in defence from the home team.

36 mins: More from our man in Minsk (as was), Dom Fifield. “Apparently I’m actually in Barysaw. Which is where Borisov play.” What was all that about a local team from the Bate fans?

35 mins: A Hazard run takes him past two players, but he can’t get past a third. The ground may be too heavy for those with dancing feet.

33 mins: Zappacosta comes across to tackle Stasevich, and as he does so it looks as if he is skating across the surface. Hleb gets a brief cameo on the ball but is failing to impose himself. In his fifth spell with Bate, no less.

32 mins: Emerson whips in a cross that Scherbitski initially fumbles then falls on top of. That ball needed a Chelsea attacker chasing it, but that doesn’t seem to be Giroud’s game these days.

30 mins: Giroud and Barkley try to play some one-twos on the edge of the Bate box, with Hazard also looking to get involved. Last-ditch stuff already from Belarus.

28 mins: Loftus-Cheek slaloms along, plays in Pedro but Chelsea’s build-up is slow. Giroud presses Bate goalkeeper Scherbitski into a hurried clearance.

25 mins: A spell of possession on the edge of Bate’s box as Chelsea try to pick the lock. Giroud and Hazard are well-marked, while Pedro has been anonymous so far tonight. Bate eventually dig the ball out but choose to launch it.

24 mins: It must be said that aside from that Giroud half-chance, Chelsea have not created many chances.

22 mins: Baha tries to set up an attack but it is Christensen who comes out to clear the ball. Chelsea’s Europa League defence should at least be used to playing with each other, if not in the Premier League.

Christensen clears.
Christensen clears. Photograph: Tatyana Zenkovich/EPA

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21 mins: Bate sitting deep now. Their plan of seizing an early goal has not come off so plan B: everyone back and hope for an opening on the break.

19 mins: Chelsea have ridden out that minor storm, it seems. The pass completion stats - 162-39 - suggest the difference between the two teams. Bate are going direct, and want it in the mixer. Chelsea patient and keeping it short.

17 mins: A chorus of Bate chants as Chelsea hold the ball as Jorginho tries to set the tempo he has dictated since almost from the very moment he arrived in London. Giroud smashes a shot wide. No domestic goals since May, remember.

16 mins: Hazard complains as he is hauled back as he looks for a one-two. This referee is not respecting reputations so far and again lets the rough stuff go.

14 mins: Warning signs for Chelsea. Like Red Star on Tuesday, Bate have been lifted by the local support. Ruben Loftus-Cheek tries to make a run, but he is knocked off the ball and to the floor. He doesn’t like the challenge but the referee waves play on.

12 mins: This time Kepa does make a save. A corner comes in and he has to claw the ball away. Volkov was lurking but could not get his feet from under himself. Sarri not amused on the sideline.

11 mins: What a shot from Baha! Kepa was beaten and the shot rattled off the cross bar.

9 mins: Bate are up for this, but Chelsea are putting the greater pressure in now. A first glance at Hleb and he is looking much the same as he used to. Something of the Willem Dafoe about him.

7 mins: My colleague Dom Fifield assures me he is in Borisov and not Minsk, having travelled that 71km. “Cold and foggy” is the weather verdict.

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4 mins: First Chelsea shot of the night comes from Ross Barkley but it is blocked. Soon after that, a foul on Hazard, the first of many and it looked heavy but he gets up quickly enough.

Hazard down after being fouled by Signevich.
Hazard down after being fouled by Signevich. Photograph: Sergei Grits/AP

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2 mins: Bate are up for this, and their home fans are too. Nikolai Sihnevich looked lively but his shot only led to a goal-kick.

And away we go!

1 min: And it looks pretty chilly out there, with most players dressed in undershirts and the coaches wrapped up warm.

Odd banner in the Bate end. Below the cartoon of what looks like a workman in the style of the Village People, the legend “Support Your Local Team” is written.

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The teams have exited the tunnel to a tumult of portentous music. And here comes that Europa League anthem, the kind of tune that sounds like it will eventually lead to a David Guetta breakdown. One of those EDM lads must have done a remix. When did they abandon the tune Michel Platini’s son-in-law composed? Think we know why.

Before we begin this odyssey, how about a dip into today’s Fiver? Sign up, too.

Alexander Hleb is the name who stands out on that Bate team sheet. It feels quite shocking to consider that he left Arsenal as far back as in 2008. He is 37 and while never one of the game’s speedsters, you would imagine the legs don’t carry him as they once did.

Maurizio Sarri speaks.

We have two targets. We want qualify and we want to win our group. In this game there is the possibility to qualify…Jorginho will play because Cesc Fabregas had a fever, he wasn’t available. Hazard, he has only played a few minutes. Willian has played four matches in a row.

(More Loftus-Cheek goals?) I hope so. I cannot ask a midfielder to score every match. It is difficult.

The way we were for Bate: this piece from 2012 remembers when they used to be real banana skin for the big boys.

And they beat mighty Roma in 2015.

If this competition is Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s route to recovery, then he did himself some good last time out. That won him 60 minutes of play against Burnley the following weekend, though he still began the game on the bench. He started against Frank Lampard’s Derby County the following week but last week rode pine. Sarri is a tough taskmaster and Loftus-Cheek has that tendency to sit back and admire his own handiwork rather than chase down the opposition. Both José Mourinho and Antonio Conte thought in similar terms.

Eden Hazard is back in the starting line-up, good news for Chelsea after he played 26 minutes plus change against Crystal Palace at the weekend as he recovers from his back injury.

There are no easy games in European football, especially European football games played in Eastern Europe, as Liverpool found out.

That Bate team selection in full.

So that team selection means Zappacosta, Christensen, Cahill and Emerson make up a defence of strangers to this season’s Premier League and Loftus-Cheek gets a chance to impress the manager who seems most unimpressed with him. He will be playing alongside Ross Barkley, who Sarri does seem to like very much and whose digging in for hard work shows a way forward for RLC. It has to be said that Sarri has chosen a strong forward line, while Álvaro Morata, at last in the goals, gets a rest.

And here are the teams

Bate: Scherbitski, Rios, Volkov, Filipenko, Filipovic, Baha, Dragun, Hleb, Skavysh, Signevich, Stasevich.

Subs: Chichkan, Yablonskiy, Berezkin, Ivanic, Tuominem, Polyakov, Moukam.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Zappacosta, Christensen, Cahill, Emerson Palmieri, Barkley, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Pedro, Giroud, Hazard.

Subs: Caballero, Kante, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi, Willian, Azpilicueta, Ampadu.

Referee: Nikola Dabanovic (Montenegro)

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Preamble

This will, it has to be admitted a night for CTRL C and CTRL C, and that’s almost as true for Chelsea as it is for BATE, such is the Marie Celeste this competition has become for certain players. Chelsea have made reasonably easy progress under the Thursday night lights with Maurizio Sarri able to experiment and still pull off three fairly easy victories and maximum points.

Get a win tonight in Minsk and the likes of Davide Zappacosta and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will have a reason for being beyond Christmas; the Italian has made one subs appearance in the Premier League while RLC has only three. Even more startling, Gary Cahill has just one subs’ appearance in the Premier League.

With two, poor old Cesc Fàbregas has made three Europa League appearances to two in the Premier League. Defender Emerson Palmieri has meanwhile not featured in the Premier League at all and neither has Andreas Christensen, the one-time cure to that curse of John Terry being the last youth player to actually make it at Stamford Bridge.

Barring the odd cameo from the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian, N’Golo Kante and Pedro, Sarri, while showing his belief in a small pocket of players and showing off his ruthlessness is treating the Europa League like a good old-fashioned reserves league. The Central League they used to call it, colloquially known as “the stiffs” among football men.

Perhaps that might be the future function of the Europa League if the big, bad European Super League comes in, a place to play “whatever happened to?”

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