Olivier Giroud’s first goal under Maurizio Sarri gave an unconvincing 1-0 win to Chelsea at BATE Borisov to seal their Europa League progress.
Chelsea are guaranteed to reach the last 32 from four, that wasn’t without difficulty in Belarus after their fourth win.
The hosts hit the woodwork in the two halves and defended , which proved problematic\.
But after the period, they opened the scoring by Giroud’s header by an Emerson cross (52) and, courtesy of a welcome clean sheet, kept up their 100 per cent record in Europe this year.
BATE: Scherbitski (7), Rios (6 ) ), Volkov (8), Filipenko (7 ) ), Filipovic (7 ) ), Hleb (7), Dragun (8), Baga (8), Skavysh (6 ) ), Signevich (6), Stasevich (6).
Subs: Tuominen (6), Moukam (5), Berezkin (n/a).
Chelsea: Kepa (7), Zappacosta (5), Cahill (6 ) ), Christensen (6 ) ), Emerson (7), Barkley (5), Jorginho (6), Loftus-Cheek (5), Pedro (6), Giroud (7), Hazard (6).
Subs: Willian (6), Kovacic (6 ) ), Hudson-Odoi (n/a).
Man of the match: Zakhar Volkov
Chelsea had much of the possession but creativity and were almost down a goal before they had settled when Dzmitry Baga struck the post out of range\.
As the people went to be level kepa \had to keep a header from Stanislav Dragun following a corner.
Immediately was a feeling of urgency in Sarri’s negative after spending most of the opening five minutes camped at the BATE half, they took the lead.
Jorginho’s first time overhaul was fizzed from broad towards Giroud by Emerson, along with the France striker header went for its opener underneath the despairing dive of Denis Scherbitski.
The Belarusian side, who had never beaten an British team on home soil, moved in immediate search of an equaliser and almost found it half an hour after falling behind, when Nilokai Signevich hit the bar afterwards turning Dagun’s long-range shot right into one of his own.
Once Signevich missed Ihar Stasevich’s cross, it allowed Alexei Rios that was full-back a chance to shoot into the box with a late run, when he must at least have hit on the goal but he smashed\.
Maurizio Sarri included Eden Hazard after his inaugural lay-off, but Chelsea were overlooking David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger and Alvaro Morata in the group altogether, with Maurizio Sarri choosing to rest them at England.
Chelsea threatened to move farther ahead with Giroud’s header from a corner and Ross Barkley’s long-range effort both forcing Scherbitski into saves, but the closest that the match came to a second target was in injury time, when BATE struck the woodwork for another time.
A corner in the dying moments had been half-cleared to replace Evgeni Berezkin, who uttered the post from outside the area\.
That narrow escape awakened BATE’s nighttime, as they were abandoned empty-handed from a solid performance against the only real side left in Europe, but Chelsea had more to smile about, and need just a point from their two remaining games to win Group L.
- BATE Borisov have dropped on each of the 3 events they have hosted an English aspect in Europe (additionally 1-2 vs Everton at Oct 2009 and 2-4 vs Arsenal in Sep 2017).
- Chelsea have won four consecutive matches in European competition for the first time since April 2012, when they moved on to win the Champions League.
- Maurizio Sarri has won all 10 of his own Europa League group stage games as a manager, with his hands scoring 28 goals while conceding just four in return.
- Three Englishmen began for Chelsea against BATE (Ross Barkley, Gary Cahill, Ruben Loftus-Cheek), the most for the Blues in European competition since April 2014 vs Atletico Madrid (Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, John Terry).
- Olivier Giroud scored his first goal for Chelsea since netting against Liverpool in May – he had gone 14 matches, 793 minutes and 24 shots without even scoring.
Person of the game – Zakhar Volkov
Volkov was a guy mountain for BATE at the back, winning a higher percentage and taking on eight duels. In addition, he made critical clearances, for example from a different Jorginho dinked through-ball which has already caught this season\.
Chelsea travel to Everton on Super Sunday at 2.15pm. It is possible to catch all the action live out of 1pm on Sky Sports Premier League.