Chelsea were already through as group winners before facing Vidi in the final group match in Budapest. We’d won five out of five in the group before this match, but would be held to a draw here.
In what was a dead rubber match for Chelsea, Maurizio Sarri rang the changes but the first half still lacked urgency as few chances were created. The usual Europa league back line started, while Barkley, Fabregas and Loftus-Cheek were in the midfield. Morata was flanked in a front three by Willian and Hudson-Odoi.
Vidi also lined up in a 4-3-3 shape. Although Chelsea enjoyed a large amount of possession in the first half, the Vidi midfield pressed high onto the Chelsea midfield, which left us playing sideways for large amounts of the half. The deep lying Fabregas wasn’t allowed the time and space that PAOK had offered him, and Chelsea’s passing in general lacked intensity.
Of the few chances created in the half, the home side had the first. Coming forward down the left Nikolov sliced wide from the edge of the box. Morata headed a cross down in the direction of Barkley, but it went between his legs and out for a goal kick.
On the half hour mark Willian made a run from the left flank across the front of the box and was brought down, although contact appeared minimal as he tried to dodge the challenge. The Brazilian took the free kick himself and bent it past the keeper in trademark fashion. Chelsea looked like they may grind out a sixth win in the group.
Vidi responded immediately, pressing forward after having defended for a long period. They won a corner just two minutes after conceding, from which they drew level. The ball into the near post was flicked on over Barkley, and unfortunately diverted in by Ampadu has he dived to get something on it in the six yard box. The young Welshman had looked one of our more assured players in possession on the night, and was unlucky to net at the wrong end here. The previous pattern was restored for the rest of the first half, Chelsea controlling possession without threatening the opposition goal, until the final minute of the half that is. Hudson-Odoi escaped his marker down the right and whipped in a decent ball to the near post. Morata could only divert it wide. Upon landing he aggravated his knee, and was replaced at half time by Giroud. Not ideal to pick up an injury to one of our two strikers in a meaningless match.
The second half was a livelier affair, reflecting something more akin to a match where the result was important. Vidi’s best player was Loic Nego. The lively Frenchman had a shot pushed round the post by Caballero in the first half, and started the second half on a mission. His out-swinging corner found Stopira un-marked at the back post, but he couldn’t keep his header down. Chelsea were still on the lax side as far as ball movement was concerned, and a few careless passes went astray early on in the second period. Eleven minutes into the half and Barkley was caught on the ball in midfield. With Fabregas and Loftus-Cheek out of the play up field as Vidi moved forward, they were in on our back four. Milanov received it down the left. Emerson tucked in as the back line moved across to the right, but when Milanov picked out Nego at the back post with a superb ball the Brazilian full back couldn’t get back across. Nego hit a sublime volley that faded away from Caballero into the top corner at the near post.
As Vidi had taken the reigns after going behind in the first half, Chelsea did so now and forged some good chances. Hudson-Odoi cut in from the right wing and curled a low shot goal wards but it was too close to Kovacsik. The passing now began to click, aided by the introduction of Pedro in place of Willian. Quick ball movement between Fabregas and Barkley cut through the Vidi midfield before Fabregas got it back and Emerson used him for a one-two down the left. The low cross was put wide by Giroud as he met it on the run. Fabregas was becoming more instrumental now. He picked out Giroud at the back post from a free kick, but his first time left foot volley was half a yard to high. Hudson-Odoi again displayed his crossing ability after good work in the middle by Fabregas again. Pedro fired wide past the far post after controlling Hudson-Odoi’s ball in.
Vinisius then wiped out Fabregas on the edge of the box. Giroud fancied this free kick, and despatched it perfectly over the defender on the line and in off the bar.
Fifteen to go and both teams wanted to win it. A higher tempo match from both teams now was slightly tempered as the ref stopped and started play with some strange decisions. No further goals were forthcoming though, and Chelsea complete the group stages unbeaten. We await the draw for the knock out stages on Monday. Chelsea will avoid the teams coming from the Champions league in the next round. After winning the group we will face a second place team from another group. Possible opponents include FC Zurich, Slavia Prague, Sporting Lisbon, and Rapid Vienna to name a few.
Vidi (4-3-3) 2 (Ampadu og 32, Nego 56) Kovacsik; Fiola, Juhasz, Vinicius, Stopira; Milanov (Kovacs 81), Hadzic (Patkai 85), Nikolov; Nego, Scepovic, Hustzi (Hodzic 81).
Chelsea (4-3-3) 2 (Willian 30, Giroud 75) Caballero; Zappacosta, Ampadu, Christensen, Emerson; Barkley, Fabregas©, Loftus-Cheek; Willian (Pedro 56), Morata, (Giroud 45), Hudson-Odoi.