Willian’s strike downs dour PAOK in Greece to give Blues three points in Europa League opener
Willian scored the only goal of the game as the Blues opened their Europa League campaign with a win against a robust and unimaginative PAOK Salonika in Greece tonight.
Chelsea dominated the match from start to finish and had a host of chances to to go with their dominance of possession, but lacked the killer touch.
But while striker Alvaro Morata showed a high degree of endeavour - until the final few minutes when he was hauled off by Maurizio Sarri, he lacked confidence and had numerous, excellent chances to improve his poor goal tally.
He drove the ball across goal and goalkeeper Paschalakis after beautifully controlling an in-perfect through ball by Antonio Rudiger.
But after a shot over the bar, another from a header and a goal rightly adjudged to be offside, the Spain striker was replaced by Olivier Giroud.
William’s goal had a spattering of luck about it bit not from the classy set-up.
Ross Barkley powered through the PAOK midfield before tapping the ball to his left for the in-running Brazilian. His low drive skidded under the body of Paschalkis and into the net. That was after seven minutes.
The remaining 83 were about trying to improve their goal tally.
But it was not to be.
Next up for the unbeaten west Londoners is a trip to East London, on Sunday to face West Ham United at the London Stadium.
Teams: Paschalaki, Vieira de Freitas, Khacheridi, dos Santos Varela, Tosca, Wernbloom, Da Silveira Júnior, Rodrigues Lima, Shakhov, El Kaddouri, Pelkas, Wardaat Subs: Ray, Prijovic, Crespo, Limnios, Biseswar, Warda, Cañas Ruiz-Herrera
Chelsea, Arrizabalaga, Zappacosta, Rüdiger, Christensen, Alonso, Kant, Jorginho, Fàbregas, Barkley, Pedro, MorataSubstituted for Giroud, Willian
Subs: Fàbregas, Loftus-Cheek, Caballero, Moses, Giroud, Cahill Azpilicueta