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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Stamford Bridge

First-night nerves for Potter as Salzburg peg Chelsea back

Chelsea (0) 1 Sterling 48

FC Salzburg (0) 1 Okafur 75

It has, let’s be honest, been a tough time for everyone in the past week. Trying to get on with our lives has not been easy when every waking moment has been spent wondering what happens next.

Wondering how everyone will cope with the change in figurehead. Wondering whether Graham Potter really is the right fit for the Blues.

The first clues were supposed to come at nearby Craven Cottage on Saturday, but, of course, history got in the way.

Instead, Potter’s baptism was destined to be in the Champions League, a competition he says he had never attended before tonight.

Todd Boehly’s Brighton import mentioned the death of the Queen in his first programme notes – hard not to in the circumstances - and admitted it had all been a bit surreal for his first week at Cobham. And that was even before the bizarre choice of Chris de Burgh’s Lady in Red as half-time musical fare.

The start was met with an ultra-respectful minute’s silence, with Salzburg fans playing their part to the full. They walked in silence from Earl’s Court as a mark of respect and even brought a banner honouring ‘Her Majesty.’

Potter looked serious. He was besuited, black tied, and unveiled a new sharp haircut. Early impressions are everything.

He wanted to see a fluid formation from his players, deploying Reece James and Raheem Sterling out wide. But the early first-half breeze fizzled out.

Marc Cucurella on the overlap set up a chance for Mason Mount which the midfielder skewed wide. Kepa – in for the injured Edouard Mendy – had to stretch low to tip aside a shot on the turn from Benjamin Sesko.

It all changed after the break, when Mount’s low cross from the right was missed by a grey-shirted Leipzig defender and Sterling, at the far post, steadied himself before curling into the bottom corner for the first goal of the Potter era.

Salzburg drew level from a break down the right, which the normally-dependable Thiago Silva failed to cut out after diving in to tackle. It ended with Noah Okafur scuffing in a low shot past Kepa to reward those travelling Austrians at the Shed End.

Chelsea had most of the ball and the goal attempts. They kept pressing. Sub Armando Broja blazed over from inside the box, Hakim Ziyech’s shot on the turn lacked power. There was not quite enough devil in the final third to edge it.

Humble beginnings then, and much to do in the group to qualify after taking just one point from the opening two games. And it’s AC Milan next, at the Bridge.

Blues: (4-2-3-1) Kepa – James, Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Azpilicueta (Ziyech 81), Cucurella – Jorginho, Kovacic (Gallagher 81) – Mount, Havertz (Loftus-Cheek 67), Sterling (Pulisic 84) – Aubameyang (Broja67).

Salzburg: (4-1-2-1-2) Kohn – Dedic, Bernardo, Pavloviv, Ulmer – Sewald –Capaldo, Kjaergaard (Gourna-Douath h/t)– Sucic (Kameri 70) – Sesko (Adamu 70), Okafor (Koita 85).

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