One of the fixtures of the tournament so far, Chelsea’s home match against Roma ebbed and flowed with each team taking the lead at some point in the game before ceding it to their opponent. In the end, goals from former Manchester City players Aleksandar Kolarov and Edin Dzeko cancelled out David Luiz’s long-range effort and Eden Hazard’s brace. On the night, a draw was perhaps the fairest result but both teams will be looking for a more conclusive result when they meet again in two weeks’ time.
Harry Brooks draws out five things we learned from the game last night.
1 Hazard is still Chelsea's saviour
It has been a tough few weeks for Chelsea football club. The defence of their Premier League title looks in tatters after consecutive losses to Manchester City and bottom-of-the-league Crystal Palace. Manager Antonio Conte has also said he is far from happy with the depth in his squad after injuries to key men, Alvaro Morata and N'Golo Kante, took their toll on the team.
In Eden Hazard, however, Conte has a world-class footballer who can drag his team over the line. The Belgian began the season injured but, having come back into full fitness, he is forming a good relationship with striker Alvaro Morata. Playing slightly behind the striker, Hazard was the Blues' most dangerous player as they raced into a two-goal lead with Hazard netting the second from close range.
However, with two goals from the on-form Edin Dzeko, Roma turned the game on its head. Once again Chelsea found themselves needing Hazard to bail them out of trouble. With the West London side looking out of ideas, Hazard steered home a rare header, claiming the point for a Chelsea team who will feel confident that they can now progress through the group stages.
2 Dzeko is still world-class
When you speak about the best strikers since 2010, Edin Dzeko is a name that wouldn't make many of the lists. However, having scored an impressive 72 goals in 189 appearances for Manchester City, the Bosnian has continued to show what a phenomenal striker he is since his move to Roma.
In 2017 alone, Dzeko has scored 31 goals in 36 games for the Italian giants, form so good that he was a surprise inclusion to the 30 man shortlist for the year's BallondD'Or award. Last season, he scored 29 league goals for Roma, helping them to an impressive second place in Serie A. So far in this campagin, he has managed seven in seven.
Last night, though, Dzeko went one further, showing that he could still perform at the highest level. His first goal of the night was arguably the goal of the tournament so far: a wonderful left-footed volley of a ball that dropped high over his shoulder which gave Thibaut Courtois little chance of saving. That made the scores 2-2, a score which only lasted a few minutes before Dzeko then gave his side the lead, nonchalantly flicking home with his head.
3 Conte is not happy
Usually so animated on the touchline, Antonio Conte cut a dejected figure last night. Barely celebrating Chelsea's opener, it has been obvious for some time now that not all is right with Conte. Before the game, he lamented the squad's summer transfer window and lack of depth in the squad with injuries to key players highlighting Chelsea's lack of options despite having spent over £150million in the summer.
Of course, Conte is not blameless. In hindsight, the decision to allow Nemanja Matic and Nathaniel Chalobah to leave look extremely short-sighted, whilst Ruben Loftus-Cheek, on loan at Crystal Palace, would no doubt have improved Chelsea's squad. With the Blues are making a hash of defending their Premier League crown, there are many people questioning what has happened to the Italian this season. Normally so careful to prepare his team for the big games, last night saw and un-Conte-like throwing away of a two-goal lead by Chelsea. Is the former Italy national coach on his way out of Stamford Bridge?
4 You live by Luiz, you die by Luiz
Last season, David Luiz was superb for Chelsea, and seemed to have matured into a reliable centre half, his sloppy mistakes a thing of the past. However, much like Chelsea, it hasn't been quite the same story this season. An avoidable red card against Arsenal for an unnecessary tackle, as well as a foolish penalty against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, Luiz clearly still has a recklessness to his game.
What has never been in doubt is the Brazilian's ability to find the net from distance. Last night, Luiz opened the scoring with a wonderful finish from 25 yards that flew into the Roma goal.
When Luiz plays in the middle of a back three, he is superb. He protects his fellow centre back expertly and, with the freedom that they offer him, his technique on the ball really comes to the fore. In the midfield area, however, his qualities as a central defender quickly become liabilities for a central midfielder. Not quite good enough on the ball to play in an advanced role, Luiz also has a tendency to be rash in the tackle which hardly helped his team.
Perhaps Conte should avoid the temptation to stick with the former Benfica star in midfield whilst N'Golo Kante is still out injured?
5 It's all to play for in Group C
Ukrainian side Qarabag managed to pick up their first ever Champions League point with a 0-0 draw at home to Spanish giants Atletico Madrid against all odds. It means that, whilst Chelsea may currently be top of the group, all three of Chelsea, Madrid, and Roma can still qualify from this group.
Madrid have the most work to do, with only two points on the board, whilst both Chelsea and Roma will feel they can take a stranglehold on the group if they can grab a win when the two sides meet in Italy in two weeks' time. Madrid, though, will be looking to take advantage of any slip up from either side in that game, leaving group C wide open.
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