Chelsea produced an excellent performance away to AC Milan in the Champions League to record the club's first-ever win at San Siro in a game which was sparked into life by a first-half red card for former Blue Fikayo Tomori, taking us top of the Group E table.
Chelsea vs AC Milan result
It finished 2-0 to Chelsea in Italy and, although it was against 10 men and we couldn't quite match the 3-0 scoreline from last week's game at Stamford Bridge against the same opponents, it was just as impressive a performance, if not more so, given the fierce atmosphere inside this giant old stadium, where we had never previously won against either of Milan's teams.
After a fairly even but high-intensity opening, the match came to life as we approached 20 minutes in, as two Chelsea Academy graduates now on opposing sides came together. As Mount raced onto Reece James' pass in the box, he was pulled back by Milan's Tomori, resulting in the referee sending off the former Chelsea man and giving the current Blues a penalty.
There wasn't a hint of nerves on Jorginho's face as he calmly slotted the spot-kick into the bottom corner with his habitual aplomb, and things only got better for Chelsea from there.
Not long after we had taken the lead, the Blues took advantage of the space resulting from our numerical advantage, as a quick exchange of passes between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mateo Kovacic and Mount resulted in Mount threading a clever pass into space in the box, where Aubameyang finished off the move with a composed shot low at the near post.
Mount was unlucky not to extend our lead further just before half-time, and there were a few chances for both sides after the break, although more heavily weighted towards Chelsea. However, just like at Stamford Bridge, the Blues drained the belief out of Milan as the game went on, making for another fairly comfortable conclusion to a memorable Champions League night.
Combined with Red Bull Salzburg's draw at Dinamo Zagreb, that leaves us top of Group E with two games remaining, one point ahead of the Austrians and with a three-point margin to Milan in third.
Graham Potter made two changes to his side from last week’s first Champions League game with AC Milan. One of those two changes was forced upon him by the injury suffered by Wesley Fofana in that game.
That meant Trevoh Chalobah lined up alongside Thiago Silva, playing the 100th Champions League game of his career, and Kalidou Koulibaly in the Blues defence, ahead of goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
It was the same front three as last week, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang supported by Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling.
The other change by Potter came in midfield, where Jorginho captained the side on his 200th appearance for Chelsea, partnering Mateo Kovacic in place of Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Reece James and Ben Chilwell continued in the wide positions.
There was no mistaking the magnitude of the occasion as the game began in a roaring atmosphere at a sold-out San Siro, with the home fans doing their upmost to give the visiting Blues an intimidating welcome to Italy, with the exception of former Rossoneri defender Thiago Silva, who received loud cheers when his name was announced before kick-off.
That intensity was carried onto the pitch from the start, with both teams pressing quickly and denying their opponents time to settle into the game. It took more than 10 minutes for the match to take on any kind of rhythm, before the two sides took it in turns to patiently probe for signs of weakness during alternating lengthy spells in possession.
Mount and Tomori light the fire
Things were sparked into life just before the 20-minute mark, though. Mount raced into the box from the right to get on the end of James’ lifted pass, with his former Chelsea Academy team-mate Fikayo Tomori hot on his heels. Tomori was all over Mount, pulling him back, and when the Blues man fell to the floor while attempting to shoot the referee pointed straight to the spot.
There was more drama as the ref showed Tomori a red card to bring his Chelsea reunion at San Siro to an early conclusion, and then issued further bookings to Mount and another ex-Blue Olivier Giroud for arguing in the aftermath of the sending off.
During all of that, Jorginho was waiting patiently with the ball in his hands. When he was finally allowed to take the spot kick, the Italian international was as calm as ever, despite the jeering of the Milan fans behind that goal and the lasers being shone in his face being visible from high in the stands. As usual, Jorginho skipped up, waited for the goalkeeper to dive to the right and rolled the ball left into the back of the net.
It was clear that was only going to increase the temperature further following Milan’s furious reaction to the penalty and red card, and there was a sigh of relief from those supporting Chelsea when Giroud found space around the penalty spot to power a header towards goal, but it flew just wide of Kepa’s left-hand post.
Auba fans the flames
There was certainly an edge to the game and the officials seemed to be struggling to keep a lid on it, dishing out several more yellow cards to players on both sides in the minutes which followed.
However, it was Aubameyang who kept his composure under the pressure and he was rewarded with Chelsea’s second goal and his third in as many games.
It had looked like the Blues’ move had fizzled out when Chilwell played a loose cross-field ball, but Aubameyang chased it down to keep possession. He then laid it off to Kovacic and set off purposefully towards the penalty area. Kovacic passed it on to Mount, who in turn played it into space behind the deep Milan defence. In the end Sterling and Aubameyang were both queuing up to get on the end of it, but it was the latter who took charge and slid a clever finish low inside the near post.
The San Siro was silenced. It may have only been temporary before the home fans regrouped, but that is still some achievement for any team. Unfortunately for the Rossoneri, their players weren’t getting organised again quite so quickly, struggling to adapt to going down to 10 men despite a substitution to bring on an extra defender in Sergino Dest, with gaping holes appearing all over the pitch for the Blues to run into, especially in the middle, which Kovacic and Mount were only too happy to exploit.
It was in just such a situation that Mount nearly added to our lead further shortly before half-time. When he received a pass to feet from James he showed great awareness to realise how much space was behind him, producing a lovely turn to leave his marker going the wrong way before driving a low shot towards the near post, but it was tipped behind for a corner by Ciprian Tatarusanu.
Mount’s reaction made it clear he thought his shot was destined for the back of the net, but that disappointment was short-lived as the referee brought an end to what had been a near-perfect 45 minutes for Potter’s Blues. It would be the end of Mount's impressive evening, though, as after earning the penalty and setting up our second he was replaced by Conor Gallagher during the break.
Not finished yet
It was a lively start to the second half, as first Kepa had to react quickly to turn away a dangerous low cross by Sandro Tonali with his foot, while at the other end Chalobah charged forward and played in Gallagher, but after rounding the keeper the substitute could only find the side-netting from a tight angle.
We were soon back exerting a level of control over the game though, and Aubameyang was unlucky not to have a second goal to his name when he redirected a long-range Kovacic volley towards goal, only to be denied by an impressive point-blank save from Tatarusanu.
However, there was no sign of Milan throwing in the towel and they created their best chance yet to get back into the game. Rafael Leao produced a neat piece of skill on the left and when Tonali miscued his shot it ran through to Dest at the back post. He had time and space to line up his effort, but got too much behind it and fired high and wide.
Making things comfortable
Potter then opted for a change of personnel and shape. One of those changes was forced, as James had been struggling with a knock and needed to go off for Cesar Azpilicueta. The other saw Ruben Loftus-Cheek introduced in place of Sterling, creating a three-man midfield with Kovacic and Jorginho, while Gallagher supported Aubameyang.
If the aim was to quieten things down and take the sting out of Milan, it had the desired result. The extra man in midfield allowed us to suffocate our opponents in the middle when they had the ball, while running them into the ground by keeping the ball moving in our increasingly long spells of possession.
While we seemed perfectly content with our two-goal lead and happy to hold it in comfort for the closing stages of the game, we were still looking for a third goal when the opportunity arose, as shown when Loftus-Cheek drove forward with the ball and slid a pass to Aubameyang in the box, but Matteo Gabbia was able to block his attempted toe-poke towards goal.
Despite a late bit of action as Gallagher was twice denied by Tatarusanu from close range, before the linesman's flag was raised anyway, it was a fairly low-key ending to the game, as Milan showed their tired legs after being made to chase the ball for so long. Chelsea were able to count down the minutes before they could celebrate an excellent evening's work in front of the travelling supporters high up in the San Siro stands.
Chelsea: Kepa; Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Koulibaly; James (Azpilicueta 62), Jorginho (c), Kovacic, Chilwell (Cucurella 89); Mount (Gallagher h-t), Aubameyang (Havertz 79), Sterling (Loftus-Cheek 62)
Unused subs: Bettinelli, Mendy, Chukwuemeka, Zakaria, Pulisic, Broja
Scorer: Jorginho pen 21, Aubameyang 34
Booked: Mount 20, Sterling 29, Gallagher 86
AC Milan: Tatarusanu; Kalulu, Gabbia, Tomori, Hernandez (c) (Ballo-Toure 80); Tonali, Bennacer (Pobega 62); Krunic, Diaz (Dest 37), Leao (Origi 80); Giroud (Rebic 62)
Unused subs: Jungdal, Mirante, Coubis, Messias
Booked: Giroud 20, Gabbia 31, Krunic 36, Pobega 67, Tonali 89)
Sent off: Tomori 18
Referee: Daniel Siebert
AC Milan vs Chelsea stats
AC Milan vs Chelsea - Champions League Group E table
See the standings after today's game
What time are the AC Milan vs Chelsea highlights available?
Match highlights from this game will be available from midnight UK time on matchday on chelseafc.com and The 5th Stand app. Extended highlights and the full match can be watched from midnight on Friday.
Chelsea fixtures - what's next?
It is back to Premier League action for Chelsea at weekend, travelling to the Midlands to face Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon.
Next fixture: Aston Villa vs Chelsea
Date: Sunday 16 October 2022
Kick-off time: 2pm UK time
Location: Villa Park