Our Under-19s were crowned European champions in their age group today when they won the UEFA Youth League final in Switzerland.
The Blues took an early lead as Izzy Brown finished from close range, although Shakhtar levelled half an hour later as Andreas Christensen turned Denys Arendaruk’s cross into his own net.
Chelsea upped the tempo at the start of the second half and netted twice in the opening 10 minutes to take charge of the game. Dominic Solanke nodded in Jeremie Boga’s left-sided cross before Brown added his second and our third with a super left-footed finish from 20 yards.
Chances continued to be created at both ends in the final 30 minutes and Shakhtar added a stoppage-time consolation but Adi Viveash and his players stood strong to claim the trophy-winning victory.
The young Blues were unchanged from Friday’s semi-final win over Roma and featured seven players in the starting 11 who have been at the club since the age of 13 or younger. Brown returned from first team duties at Loftus Road the previous day to captain the side, joining Boga and the competition’s leading goalscorer Solanke in attack.
Bradley Collins continued in goal protected by a back four of Ola Aina, Andreas Christensen, Jake Clarke-Salter and Jay Dasilva. Our defence started the day having conceded just four goals in nine games in the competition this term. Charlie Colkett, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Charly Musonda comprised the midfield trio.
The Ukrainians made just one change from their semi-final victory over Anderlecht, with goalscorer Denys Arendaruk earning a recall to the team.
Danylo Sahutkin headed over an early corner for Shakhtar but the young Blues started brightly and took the lead after seven minutes with the first attack of note in the game. A flowing move involving Musonda, Boga and Solanke saw the latter released down the left and his cutback cross was turned past goalkeeper Oleh Kudryk by Brown from 12 yards out via a deflection.
Boga’s low effort was fired straight at Kudryk moments later as Chelsea threatened to take a stranglehold of the final, although Shakhtar did respond and forced both Christensen and Clarke-Salter into moments of good defensive work in the opening half hour.
Musonda and Solanke fired over the crossbar and Boga’s free-kick missed the target in similar fashion before Shakhtar levelled with a clinical counter-attacking goal. The Blues were outnumbered on the break and Arendaruk’s direct running stretched the defence before his centre into the box was turned past Collins by Christensen.
The Chelsea response was positive with both Solanke and Musonda (pictured below) handed opportunities to put their side back ahead in the final, although neither could quite connect to low crosses into the six-yard box. In the final action of the half, Collins did well to keep hold of Oleksandr Zubkov’s powerful cross-shot.
Just as in the opening period, Viveash’s side started brightly and took the lead again with their first attacking action of the half two minutes after the restart. Boga picked up the ball on the left and scooped a delightful cross in to Solanke, who had fashioned some space with clever movement. He nodded the ball in for his 12th UEFA Youth League goal of the season and 34th in all competitions.
Eight minutes later, Chelsea had secured a crucial two-goal advantage and Boga (pictured below) was once again the architect. The tricky Frenchman clipped another great ball to the right to find Brown and the forward shifted the ball intelligently on to his left shot before finding the bottom far corner with an accurate low strike.
The Blues had restarted with a higher intensity to their play and continued to carve out chances, with Kudryk saving from Brown and Aina’s effort flying narrowly wide, before Loftus-Cheek fired over after some great skill from Colkett and then Solanke dragged a shot just wide of the far post.
Zubkov fired a great opportunity wide after taking a long ball forward down well on his chest, while down the other end Solanke fired over from five yards out following more positive work down the right from Brown. Shakhtar added a stoppage-time consolation as substitute Viktor Kovalenko slotted past Collins but it was the Chelsea Academy celebrating another memorable cup win in the Swiss sunshine.
Chelsea Bradley Collins; Ola Aina, Andreas Christensen, Jake Clarke-Salter, Jay Dasilva; Charlie Colkett, Ruben Loftus-Cheek; Izzy Brown (c), Charly Musonda (Tammy Abraham 85), Jeremie Boga; (Kasey Palmer 71); Dominic Solanke.
Unused subs Jared Thompson, Fikayo Tomori, Kyle Scott, Ruben Sammut, Dujon Sterling
Scorers Brown 7, 55; Solanke 47
Shakhtar Oleh Kudryk (c), Ihor Kyryukhantsev, Danylo Sahutkin, Mykola Matviyenko, Oleg Hladchenko, Beka Vachiberadze, Denys Arendaruk (Artem Merkushov 77), Oleksandr Pikhalonok, Andriy Boryachuk, Oleksandr Zubkov, Vasyl Shtander (Viktor Kovalenko 71)
Unused subs Ruslan Yefanov, Dmytro Shevchenko, Yuriy Senytskyy, Oleksandr Hlahola, Yaroslav Fursov
Scorers Christensen (og) 37; Kovalenko 90+2
Booked Vachiberadze, Kovalenko
By Sam Poplett
- The game will be shown in full on Chelsea TV at 11pm.