Qarabag 0-4 Chelsea: Champions League – as it happened

Barry Glendenning on 22 November 2017

Match report: Qarabag 0-4 Chelsea

Dominic Fifield was the Guardian’s man in Baku and he’s sent us this on-the-whistle report.

A stroll in the park for Chelsea: Rashad Sadygov’s dismissal in the 20th minute made life easy for Chelsea, who had an early fright when Michel somehow rattled the cross-bar when scoring looked easier. Eden Hazard converted the penalty conceded by Sadygov and it was Willian who doubled Chelsea’s lead a few minutes before half-time. Willian won his team another penalty in the second half and Cesc Fabregas converted it at the second attempt. Willian rounded off a good night’s work with a low drive into the corner.

Full-time: Qarabag 0-4 Chelsea

It’s all over - the sending off after 20 minutes pretty much ended this match as a contest, which Chelsea won at a canter. Chelsea are through to the last 16, along with Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. Manchester United should join them in the knockout stages tonight, while Liverpool still have more to do.

Chelsea’s manager Antonio Conte celebrates after the match with Chelsea’s players.
Chelsea’s manager Antonio Conte celebrates after the match with Chelsea’s players. Photograph: David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters


90+3 min: A jobsworth to the last, the referee insists on playing three minutes of added time, which we could all do without. Chelsea are flying home straight after the game and expect their players to be back in Cobham by 3am.

90 min: Neat play from Willian, who takes out two Qarabag defenders with a soft-shoe shuffle down by the corner flag before teeing up Farbegas. Sehic saves well.

89 min: Some post match reading following a lively debate by assorted eggheads, some of the finest minds in sports journalism and myself this afternoon.

87 min: This victory means that Chelsea will advance to the last 16 of the Champions League. Qarabag can still qualify for the Europa League, but it’s a long shot and much depends on the outcome of the match between Atletico Madrid and Roma in Spain later this evening.

86 min: Qarabag substitution: Dani Quintana on for dino Ndlovu.

GOAL! Qarabag 0-4 Chelsea (Willian 85)

Boom! Willian smashes the ball into the bottom right-hand corner from the right side of the D outside the Qarabag penalty area.

Chelsea’s Willian celebrates scoring their fourth goal with teammates.
Chelsea’s Willian celebrates scoring their fourth goal with teammates. Photograph: Aziz Karimov/Reuters


81 min: Qarabag substitution: central defender Elvin Yunuszade replaces attacking midfielder Wilde-Donald Guerrier. That’s a signal of intent if ever I saw one. Short of throwing a towel on to the pitch I’m not sure how it could more clear.

78 min: Sehic saves well from Morata, who’d shot from the edge of the penalty area.

76 min: Chelsea have made their final substitution: Danny Drinkwater on for N’Golo Kante. There’ll be no Champions League run-out for 18-year-old Chelsea substitute Dujon Sterling tonight. It seems strange, as this match is over as a contest and it seems an obvious time to give such an inexperienced player some valuable match minutes.

74 min: Housekeeping: Qarabag’s Maksim Medvedev was booked for protesting about the awarding of that penalty. I’m not sure he had much of a leg to stand on. Gara Garayev grabbed a generous handful of Willian’s shirt before he made his way into the penalty area, although a good lawyer might argue that he’d let it go before the Brazilian made it into it.

GOAL! Qarabag 0-3 Chelsea (Fabregas 73pen)

For the second time in quick succession, Cesc Fabregas fires into the bottom left-hand corner. Sehic guesses correctly, but is unable to keep the ball out.

Cesc Fabregas scores their third goal from the penalty spot.
Cesc Fabregas scores their third goal from the penalty spot. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters


Fabregas has to retake it

Fabregas scores from the spot but his effort is disallowed when the ref spots Zappacosta encroaching.


Shades of deja vu as Gara Garayev drags down Willian in the Qarabag penalty area.

70 min: Chelsea get the ball in the Qarabag net but the “goal” is ruled out for an Azpilicueta offside in the build-up.

69 min: The ball trundles agonisingly wide of the far upright after Morata latches on to a great pass from Rudiger. He should have scored.

68 min: Qarabag break from the corner, but a promising counter-attack comes to nothing when Richard Almeida is flagged for offside as Dino Ndlovu tries to pick him out with a pass.

67 min: Alvaro Morata doesn’t take long to get involved, but is denied as he tries to pounce on a through-ball by an excellent last-ditch tackle from Gara Garayev. A corner for Chelsea.

65 min: Chelsea substitution: Alvaro Morata on for Eden Hazard.

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Chelsea’s manager Antonio Conte.
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Chelsea’s manager Antonio Conte. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters


63 min: A strong left hand from Ibrahim Sehic denies Eden Hazard, who fired from the edge of the six yard box after being teed up by N’Golo Kante. Great goalkeeping.

60 min: The match has died as a contest and both sides are playing with the air about them of players who would like the final whistle to blow now. Chelsea have a six-hour flight home ahead of their big match at Anfield at the weekend. Qarabag just don’t want to be subjected to another hiding - they’re playing a 5-3-1 in what looks an exercise in damage limitation.

56 min: Cesar Azpilicueta sends another of his precision diagonals towards the far post, but Marcos Alonso is unable to get meaty enough contact on it. That will be Alonso’s last contribution of the evening, as he’s subbed off for Gary Cahill.

55 min: Marcos Alonso goes into the book for a bad tackle on Wilde-Donald Guerrier. He doesn’t look best pleased but I’m not sure he can have any complaints.

52 min: CLOSE! But no cigar for Chelsea, who miss a good opportunity to go three up. Pedro darted into the box and brought down a through ball with a wonderful first touch, only to be thwarted by Sehic. The goalkeeper was quck off his line to narrow the angle and block Pedro’s shot. Willian’s follow-up was blocked by Maksim Medvedev, who appeared to handle it.

51 min: Willian wins a corner for Chelsea. Fabregas curls the ball towards the far post, but it’s too close to Qarabag goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic, who plucks it from the Baku night sky.

49 min: Qarabag attempt to get forward with Diniyev and Michel combining down the inside right. Pedro intervenes to avert the danger and restore possession to the men in white.

47 min: Eden Hazard attempts to pick out Willian with an ambitious lofted pass towards the edge of the Qarabag penalty area, but it’s intercepted and cleared.

Second half: Qarabag 0-2 Chelsea

46 min: Chelsea get the second half started. Qarabag have made one change in personnel: midfielder Johshgun Diniyev is on for Mahir Madatov.

A word for Dino Ndlovu

Qarabag’s striker has been operating as a lone frontman since the sending-off and has been running his legs into stumps chasing aimless balls being hoofed his way. He hasn’t had much luck, as many of the balls he’s being forced to chase are the kind of lost causes even St Jude would struggle to help him out with. It’ll be interesting to see how long he lasts, as he must be near exhaustion already.

The Sadygov sending-off: Eden Hazard played a wonderful through ball for Willian to chase. The Brazilain duly did so, but was impaired when Sadygov grabbed his hand and gave it a little tug. I’m not so sure the Qarabag captain prevented a clear goal-scoring opportunity, but in the BT Studio, Frank Lampard says otherwise. It’s a grey area and a sending off and a penalty seems a mite harsh to me.

Half-time: Qarabag 0-2 Chelsea

45 min: They may be fighting a lost cause, but Qarabag haven’t thrown in the towel. They’re two goals down at half-time, but still fighting. They lost their captain Rashad Sadygov to a red card after he conceded a penalty from which Eden Hazard opened the scoring. Chelsea doubled their lead through Willian and already look home and hosed.

44 min: Qarabag get forward down the right flank, with Guerrier on the ball. N’Golo Kante dispossesses him and clears the danger for Chelsea.

41 min: Pedro goes on a rampaging run towards the Qarabag penalty area. He rides a challenge from Garayev, regains his balance and is then hacked down by Jakub Rzezniczak, loses his balance again and collides with the goalkeeper. Rzezniczak gets a yellow card and is perhaps lucky not to get a red. Chelsea get a free-kick in a good position, but Willian curls it wide.

40 min: Qarabag didn’t let their heads drop after going a goal and a man down, but this second Chelsea goal seems to have knocked the stuffing out of them.

38 min: That was a great passage of play from Chelsea’s front three of Willian, Pedro and Eden Hazard. Pedro passed into the path of Willian, who picked out Hazard as the trio converged on the Qarabag penalty area. Hazard duly returned the favour with a precise back-heel, which Willian slotted home with a minimum of fuss.

GOAL! Qarabag 0-2 Chelsea (Willian 36)

Willian slots home with a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner after being teed up by an Eden Hazard backheel.

Chelsea’s Willian celebrates scoring their second goal with Eden Hazard.
Chelsea’s Willian celebrates scoring their second goal with Eden Hazard. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters


36 min: Michel attempts to pick out another run from Ndlovu with a weighted ball into the Chelsea area. It rolls wide.

35 min: Cesc Fabregas it was who took that corner - David Luiz isn’t quite fast or athletic enough to meet his own crosses. That error has been corrected.


34 min: Chelsea win a corner, which Cesc Fabregas sends towards the far post. David Luiz gets the jump on Wilde-Donald Guerrier but directs his header wide. He should have done better.


32 min: Qarabag lump the ball up the channel for lone frontman Dino Ndlovu to chase. Anotonio Rudiger hares across the pitch to beat him to the ball.

29 min: Cesar Azpilicueta whips a ball across the face of the Qarabag six-yard box and Eden Hazard gets in front of his man to direct a header goalwards. It’s on target but weak and doesn’t trouble Ibrahim Sehic unduly.

27 min: Qarabag manager Gurban Gurbanov has reshuffled his deck, moving right-back Aksim Medvedev into the recently departed Sadygov’s position in the heart of Qarabag’s defence. I think Gara Garayev has moved from midfield to right-back.

26 min: Now Willian is penalised for foul play in a tussle for the ball with Ansi Agolli a few yards outside the Qarabag penalty area.

23 min: Here’s how I saw it: Qarabag skipper Rashad Sadygov made no attempt to play the ball as he dragged out of Willian’s arm to prevent him latching on to a through ball. It was a definite penalty, but the dismissal seemed harsh - I don’t think it was a clear goal-scoring opportunity by any stretch of the imagination. Willian also seemed to go to ground very easily, but there doesn’t seem to be any question about him being fouled.

GOAL! Qarabag 0-1 Chelsea (Hazard 22)

Eden Hazard makes no mistake, pausing ever so briefly before sending Ibrahim Sehic the wrong way as he fires home to give Chelsea the lead.

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard scores their first goal from the penalty spot.
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard scores their first goal from the penalty spot. Photograph: David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters


There's a pause ...

As Qarabag’s manager stages an impromptu team meeting on the touchline while Eden Hazard waits to take the penalty. Sadygov also forgot to hand the armband to a team-mate after storming off the pitch.


AND A RED CARD!!! Qarabag captain Rashad Sadygov is shown a red card for bringing down Willian and preventing a clear goalscoring opportunity without making a legitimate attempt to play the ball. Chelsea have a penalty. I think it’s a very harsh decision.

Qarabag’s Rashad Sadygov is shown a red card by referee Manuel De Sousa.
Qarabag’s Rashad Sadygov is shown a red card by referee Manuel De Sousa. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters


14 min: A glorious chance squandered by the home side after splendid build-up play by Madatov and Ndlovu on the edge of the penalty area. Medvedev teed up Michel, who attempted to roof the ball, but succeeded only in rattling the woodwork. Richard Almeida, it was, who was unable to volley the rebound home.

13 min: CHANCE!!! Michel rattles the cross-bar with a shot from about six yards out after Qarabag had carved open Chelsea with a wonderful passing move. The ball rebounds but Madatov is unable to convert with the follow-up.

11 min: N’Golo Kante plays the ball towards the back post, where Davide Zappacosta wins a corner for his side. Nothing comes of it.

10 min: This match has been played at a real dawdle so far, the kind of pedestrian pace you’d more readily associate with a testimonial or friendly. Chelsea have had the best of what few chances we’ve had so far, but they have been few and far between.

7 min: Qarabag break on a counter-attack which breaks down when their South African striker Dino Ndlovu misplaces a pass to his fellow frontman Mahir Madatov.

6 min: Marcos Alonso attempts to drill the ball across the edge of the Qarabag penalty area, but it’s cleared by Jakub Rzezniczak. Chelsea are starting to dominate, their every pass being greeted by loud boos from the home crowd.

4 min: Cesc Fabregas fires off the first shot in anger, low and hard but straight at Qarabag goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic. He pounced on the ball after Pedro had miscontrolled it on the edge of the Qarabag penalty area.

3 min: A slow enough start, with both teams trying to find their rhythm. It’s weird watching on TV, as you can hear the crowd but not see it, what with everybody being so far away from the pitch.

Qarabag v Chelsea is go ...

1 min: Qarabag get the ball rolling on a mild night in Baku. They’re kitted out in black shirts, shorts and socks, while their English visitors wear white shirts, shorts and socks.

Dino Ndlovu of Qarabag FK and Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea battle for posession.
Dino Ndlovu of Qarabag FK and Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea battle for posession. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty Images


The stadium: There’s more than a touch of the London Stadium about this enorm-o-dome in Baku, where a running track means the stands are a long, long way back from the pitch. Here’s hoping the travelling Chelsea fans have brought their opera glasses.


Not long now: It’s almost time for kick-off at Baku’s Azersun Arena, where the teams are on their way out of the tunnel for the last of the pre-match formalities. It’s a 67,000 sell-out and according to BT’s commentator, just over 900 of them are over to support Chelsea.

Antonio Conte speaks ...

On how Qarabag have improved since Chelsea beat them 6-0 at Stamford Bridge: “I think we played a really good game against Qarabag and after the game they improved a lot,” the Chelsea manager says in an interview with BT Sport. “They have drawn twice against Atletico Madrid and they lost against Roma, but Roma struggled here.”

On the return of David Luiz to his starting line-up: “I think every game I have to take the best decision for the team and I go game by game. We have to play every three days and it’s normal to have rotation in my squad and today I decided this way.”

On the absence of Alvaro Morata: “It’s another choice and I repeat when you have to play every three games, rotation is important.”

On his beard and whether or not he’ll wait until Chelsea lose until shaving it off: “I decided to change a bit to my look but I can decide to cut my beard very early.”

Qarabag v Chelsea line-ups ...

Qarabag: Sehic, Medvedev, Sadygov, Rzezniczak, Agolli, Guerrier, Almeida, Garayev, Madatov, Michel, Ndlovu.

Subs: Kanibolotskiy, Amirguliyev, Ismayilov, Yunuszadze, Sheydaev, Diniyev, Quintana.

Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Zappacosta, Fabregas, Kante, Willian, Alonso, Pedro, Hazard.

Subs: Caballero, Drinkwater, Morata, Bakayoko, Cahill, Christensen, Sterling.

Referee: Manuel De Sousa (Lisbon)

A win will do for Chelsea ...

Victory in Azerbaijan today will guarantee Chelsea’s passage to the knockout stages and they’ll be confident following their 6-0 thrashing of Qarabag in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge. Kick off is at 5pm (GMT), but stay tuned for team news and build-up.


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