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UEFA Youth League report: Chelsea 3 Zenit St Petersburg 1

Our Under-19s booked a place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Youth League and will host Atletico Madrid in the last eight after coming from behind against Zenit.

A free-kick from Ilya Kubyshkin had handed the Russians an early lead before Dominic Solanke’s header restored parity in the game.

With the tie level at the break, Chelsea restarted strongly and were ahead after 49 minutes through substitute Kasey Palmer. Zenit were reduced to 10 men after Kubyshkin was sent off for a foul on Solanke before Charlie Colkett’s penalty settled matters late on.

 

Team news

There were three changes from the side that last lined up in this competition in a 6-0 win over Sporting Lisbon in December. First-year scholars Jake Clarke-Salter and striker Tammy Abraham came into the side, while Alex Kiwomya started on the right wing.

Bradley Collins kept his place in goal, protected by a back four of Ola Aina, Fikayo Tomori (pictured below), Jay Dasilva and Clarke-Salter. Colkett and Andreas Christensen lined up in midfield, with Solanke operating in the number 10 role behind Abraham. On the opposite flank to Kiwomya was Izzy Brown, who captained the side once again.

 

First half

A quiet opening period in which much of the play took place in midfield was abruptly livened up after 12 minutes as the Russians grabbed an early lead. Aleksei Gaslin’s burst forward drew a foul from Clarke-Salter on the edge of the box and Kubyshkin stepped up to curl a very good effort into the top corner.

The Blues responded well as Colkett almost netted at the end of a move he started with a lovely ball left to Brown. The skipper waited patiently before returning the favour but Colkett couldn’t quite connect to divert the ball towards goal.

However, Adi Viveash’s side were level in the tie after 21 minutes as a corner from the left was capitalised upon. Abraham rose highest to win a header at the far post and Solanke (pictured top) reacted quickly in front of the goalkeeper to nod the loose ball beyond him. It was the striker’s 28th goal of a productive campaign to date and the ninth consecutive game he has scored in.

The action swung from end to end for the remainder of the first half. Maixmillan Pronichev fired inches wide and then Christensen hit the near post after latching on to a corner at the back post. Pavel Nazimov stung Collins’ palms before Abraham was inches away from connecting to Dasilva’s cross as the sides remained deadlocked at the break.

 

Second half

Chelsea restarted brightly and took the lead for the first time on the evening four minutes into the second period. Brown had gone close moments before but it was substitute Palmer (pictured below) who provided the inspiration. Receiving a short corner, the midfielder beat a man before drilling a powerful low effort into the far corner.



The goal inspired the Blues into their best period of the game and Palmer fired narrowly wide following another flowing counter-attacking move involving the lively Solanke. The striker was involved again moments later as Christensen released him with a perfect forward pass. Having flicked the ball over the covering Kubyshkin, Solanke bore down on goal and was just assessing his options when he was felled by the defender, who was swiftly dismissed for the foul.

Zenit continued to carry a threat but Chelsea managed to double their advantage after 71 minutes. Solanke latched on to a long clearance forward and used his pace to accelerate quickly in behind the defence. As he attempted to go past the goalkeeper, the referee deemed he was clipped and brought down. Colkett stepped up from 12 yards and slotted it confidently into the bottom corner.

The goal inspired the Blues into their best period of the game and Palmer fired narrowly wide following another flowing counter-attacking move involving the lively Solanke. The striker was involved again moments later as Christensen released him with a perfect forward pass. Having flicked the ball over the covering Kubyshkin, Solanke bore down on goal and was just assessing his options when he was felled by the defender, who was swiftly dismissed for the foul.

Zenit continued to carry a threat but Chelsea managed to double their advantage after 71 minutes. Solanke latched on to a long clearance forward and used his pace to accelerate quickly in behind the defence. As he attempted to go past the goalkeeper, the referee deemed he was clipped and brought down. Colkett stepped up from 12 yards and slotted it confidently into the bottom corner.

With the numerical advantage, Viveash’s side were happy to see out the game with possession football in the final 10 minutes. Christensen and Palmer brought saves from Rudakov but couldn’t extend the lead as the Blues settled for a two-goal victory and a place in the last eight for the second successive season.

A date for the quarter-final against Atletico will be arranged in due course, while our Under-18s return to the field on Saturday as they kick off a weekend of Tottenham action at Cobham.

 

Chelsea Bradley Collins; Ola Aina, Fikayo Tomori, Jake Clarke-Salter, Jay Dasilva; Charlie Colkett, Andreas Christensen; Alex Kiwomya (Kasey Palmer h/t), Dominic Solanke, Izzy Brown (c); Tammy Abraham.
Unused subs Jared Thompson, Ali Suljic, Charly Musonda, Jeremie Boga, Ruben Sammut, Ike Ugbo
Scorers Solanke 21; Palmer 49; Colkett pen 71
Booked Clarke-Salter

Zenit Maxim Rudakov, Maixmillan Pronichev (Valeriy Yaroshenko 78), Dmitriy Skopintsev, Pavel Nazimov (Pavel Dolgov 71), Aleksei Gaslin, Daniil Zuev, Dzhamaldin Khodzhaniiazov (c), Daniil Maykov, Pavel Osipov (Nikita Novopashin 61), Ramil Sheydaev, Ilya Kubyshkin
Unused subs Igor Obukhov, Artem Vodyannikov, Ivan Ivanidi, Nikita Andreev
Scorer Kubyshkin 12
Sent off Kubyshkin
Booked Kubyshkin, Khodzhaniiazov, Rudakov

By Sam Poplett


With the numerical advantage, Viveash’s side were happy to see out the game with possession football in the final 10 minutes. Christensen and Palmer brought saves from Rudakov but couldn’t extend the lead as the Blues settled for a two-goal victory and a place in the last eight for the second successive season.



Manager reaction

Adi Viveash reflected on a place in the quarter-finals and a strong performance from his players on the night, and said the challenge now was for them to go one better than last season. Speaking to the official Chelsea website after the game, he said: ‘To get into the quarter-finals again is nice but we want to go further.

‘We’re in the last eight and we feel we’re capable of winning the competition. I thought we did really well in the game. Zenit started well in the opening 15 minutes but after that we started to find our feet and scored a good set-piece goal to equalise. We were pleased with it at 1-1 at half-time but we knew we needed to sort a few things out.

‘Our centre-backs needed to work in sync a bit more with Andreas and Charlie in midfield but that was something we improved on as the game went on. Kasey Palmer scored another special goal and he was also intelligent on the ball and worked very hard for the team, while Solanke going up front gave us something else in the second half because he’s probably the best number nine in the competition.

‘I thought our best player though was Ola Aina (pictured below); he was very good because their left winger is as good as any I’ve seen in the competition and he didn’t give him a sniff. We kept our discipline really well which was important because we spoke going into the game about how yellow cards are accumulated and you get a suspension once you get three. The level goes up in the last-16 and we knew that so it’s another really good night for the Academy.’


A date for the quarter-final against Atletico will be arranged in due course, while our Under-18s return to the field on Saturday as they kick off a weekend of Tottenham action at Cobham.

 

Chelsea Bradley Collins; Ola Aina, Fikayo Tomori, Jake Clarke-Salter, Jay Dasilva; Charlie Colkett, Andreas Christensen; Alex Kiwomya (Kasey Palmer h/t), Dominic Solanke, Izzy Brown (c); Tammy Abraham.
Unused subs Jared Thompson, Ali Suljic, Charly Musonda, Jeremie Boga, Ruben Sammut, Ike Ugbo
Scorers Solanke 21; Palmer 49; Colkett pen 71
Booked: Clarke-Salter

Zenit Maxim Rudakov, Maixmillan Pronichev (Valeriy Yaroshenko 78), Dmitriy Skopintsev, Pavel Nazimov (Pavel Dolgov 71), Aleksei Gaslin, Daniil Zuev, Dzhamaldin Khodzhaniiazov (c), Daniil Maykov, Pavel Osipov (Nikita Novopashin 61), Ramil Sheydaev, Ilya Kubyshkin
Unused subs Igor Obukhov, Artem Vodyannikov, Ivan Ivanidi, Nikita Andreev
Scorer Kubyshkin 12
Sent off Kubyshkin
Booked Kubyshkin, Khodzhaniiazov, Rudakov

By Sam Poplett

 

- Match highlights and video reaction from Adi Viveash are available now in Video on Demand. Izzy Brown talking about the game can be watched below, subject to free Fan Club registration. 

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