Zenit 3-3 Chelsea: 5 points worth mentioning when Chelsea refuse to be top of the table at the last stage

Chelsea took a 3-2 lead in Russia with moments left over from second-half goals from Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner, but a late equalizer sent them to the top of the Champions League table.

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In the photo: Zenit v Chelsea

Thomas Tuchel made eight changes to his Chelsea team because of them Champions League away game against Zenit St Petersburg, providing the opportunity for some fringe players to impress, but the Blues had to finish second in their table after a 3-3 draw and face a nervous wait. to find out their ultimate rivals with Bayern Munich and Real. Madrid among the possibilities.

Timo Werner It took less than two minutes to give the Blues the lead, shooting from space after the corner had been sent into his line, but Chelsea stalled and went behind at half-time as Claudinho and Serdar Azmoun consecutive attacks.

Romelu Lukaku – making his first appearance since returning from injury – brought the Blues back to the level after just an hour with a touch of the ball from Werner’s cross.

Werner looked like the hero as time went on, beating Zenit goalkeeper Mikhail Kerzhakov with a confident sinking finish just five minutes ago, but there was a change of pace even later when Magomed Ozdoev equalized in overtime.

Here are the key points for a dramatic match in Russia.

Chelsea were denied victory on the spot when Ozdoev scored



1. Reece James in midfield

With Jorginho and N’Golo Kante both absent from the starting XI for different reasons, Tuchel decided to try a different approach by moving right-back James into the heart of midfield.

The England international has played there before, but mostly on loan at Wigan Athletic rather than an away game in the Champions League.

James’ test has not been the easiest, given the amount of change elsewhere in the squad, but there is a feeling he could be an option in midfield in games where Chelsea want to be more attacking. from the full-back.

Reece James was promoted to midfield with several players absent



2. Kepa prepares for a busy January

Kepa Arrizabalaga did not play for Chelsea since October, when the London side defeated Southampton on penalties in the Carabao Cup, but he could be a busy man in the new year.

Edouard Mendy will join his Senegal teammates for the Africa Cup of Nations, leaving the former Athletic Bilbao player as a starter for league and cup matches in January, hence the return maybe in part to keep the Spaniard fresh. against opponents that have ensured Mendy is a busy man in the back-to-back match.

After a quiet first quarter of the game, he needed to make a brilliant save from Zenit winger Malcom to keep his team ahead.

He was not given many chances for either home goal in the first half but needed to intervene with more big stops either side of the break to keep Chelsea on the game, and will hope he He showed he shouldn’t be writing down just yet.

Kepa made some excellent saves to keep Chelsea in the game


Nice pictures)

3. Saul auditions for a different role

“I don’t know where he is going from this performance,” said Tuchel after Saul Niguez was battered in a Chelsea shirt. Premier League win in Watford, but the Spaniard has been given another chance in Russia and some may have wondered how many more chances are to come.

Whether Mateo Kovacic’s positive Covid test provided a loser’s chance, he seized it with an early rush to create a corner, from which Werner opened the scoring. number.

Saul started the game at left-back, and had good mobility, but his ability to contribute to the defence was more questioned as Zenit wanted to attack down his half.

As the game progressed, however, he impressed Tuchel enough to feature for 75 minutes, suggesting he could have some role in the coming weeks as Ben Chilwell remains injured.

4. Nervous in the midfield position

Andreas Christensen had some nervous moments in the Chelsea trio



As things settle, Chelsea have four senior defenders out of contract next summer, despite efforts to revive extension talks with Andreas Christensen.

While the Blues may be forced to get their hands on the transfer market, Malang Sarr remains a long-term option behind and has just made his fourth appearance of the season in St Petersburg.

Sarr started in a back three with Christensen and Cesar Azpilcueta, and there were some tense moments in the first half as Malcom and Azmoun both threatened the hosts before the lack of central defenders prompted Claudinho to open his mouth. equalize.

While the French defender is still only 22 years old, the performance may explain why he currently has a long-term prospect rather than an immediate option, but Christensen was also to blame as the visitors took the lead. from 1-0 to 2-1 in the blink of an eye.

5. Chelsea may fail to finish first

Werner’s late goal wasn’t enough for Chelsea



The ball was already in Chelsea’s field before kick-off, as they knew one win was enough for the top spot thanks to an all-out win over Juventus at Stamford Bridge.

Winning the group doesn’t always guarantee an easy draw in the round of 16, as Chelsea learned last season when they faced Atletico Madrid, but things look different this season. thanks to the progress of other teams in the Premier League.

With both Manchester clubs topping their table, along with Liverpool, Chelsea know second place means 50% chance of meeting either Bayern Munich or Real Madrid, with a 20-goal Ajax being another option.

Werner’s late goal could have been huge, but Zenit’s equalizer meant the Blues faced anxiety awaiting the knockout stage.

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