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  • By Yann Tear at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea breeze past Milan to ignite Champions League campaign


Chelsea (1) 3 Fofana 24 Aubameyang 56, James 62

AC Milan (0) 0

Chelsea finally have lift-off after their stuttering start in this year’s opening Champions League outings, as they comfortably saw off a surprisingly limited Milan.


A first half strike from Wesley Fofana – his first for the club – and a second half goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put the Blues in easy street and ushered in Graham Potter’s first win in the competition.


Reece James’ sublime dart into the box and rising shot at the near post put the game well beyond the Italians’ reach. It also underlined his return to top form – a marauding, powerful presence at both ends of the pitch.


Defeat at Dinamo Zagreb and dropped points from a home draw against Salzburg demanded a response and the Blues duly responded.


This is a fixture which will always carry much resonance for the Blues – this was the one with which they first launched their Champions League chapter in 1999 – the one which preceded that famous 1-1 draw in the San Siro.


But seven-times European kings Milan are a pale shadow of the great sides of yesteryear and gave the Blues little to worry about, in spite of all the hype and the fevered presence of the passionate tifosi at the Shed End.


Chelsea were well on top and deservedly ahead before the break, having done nearly all the pressing and been barely troubled at the back.


The only disruption was the loss to injury of Fofana after 37 minutes, although the £70 million defender did not depart before leaving an indelible mark on the match by scoring the opener.


The former Leicester City man was perfectly placed to roll the ball into the corner of the net after a goalmouth scramble from a corner which followed a half-save from Romanian keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu to keep out a Thiago Silva header.


That was the third header the Brazilian had won in a matter of minutes against a very fragile looking Milan rearguard. The first of that trio needed to be tipped over by the stopper, the second flashed just off target. The Rossoneri could not cope with him.


Milan almost stole a lucky equaliser before the break, with Rade Krunic spooning over with the goal at his mercy. But they got no closer to having a say in proceedings.


Eleven minutes into the second half and Aubameyang had doubled the lead from a James cross before the England defender helped himself to the third. No wonder the ecstatic Matthew Harding End aired their ‘One of Our Own’ chant in appreciation.


It was not the return to Stamford Bridge either Fikayo Tomori or Olivier Giroud envisaged.


Milan boss Stefano Pioli will be hopeful of a far closer contest in the return group fixture next week, but Chelsea appear to have the weapons to inflict more damage.

Blues: (3-4-2-1) Kepa – Fofana (Chalobah 38), Thiago Silva, Koulibaly – James, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic (Jorginho 66), Chlwell – Mount (Havertz 74), Sterling (Broja 75), Aubameyang (Gallagher 65)

Milano: (4-2-3-1) Tatarusanu – Dest, Kalalu, Tomori, Ballo-Toure – Bennacer (Pobega73), Tonali – Krunic (Gabbia 65), De Ketelaere (Rebic 65), Rafael Leao (Diaz72) – Giroud (Origi 73).

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