Champions League sharp-shooter
Inside Blue Wed 21 Feb 2018
Willian's wonderful goal against Barcelona marked the Brazilian out as Europe's deadliest finisher from outside the penalty box.
Chelsea's No22 enjoyed one of his best games for the Blues in our enthralling 1-1 draw with arguably our biggest rival on the European stage.
No player completed more dribbles, created more chances or shot at goal as often as Willian, who hit both posts in the first half with shots from outside the box.
Barca clearly didn't get the memo about his sharp shooting from distance and he duly punished them in the second half with a fierce low drive to open the scoring.
That took his tally for Champions League goals scored from outside the box to six since he made the move to west London in 2013, which is more than any other player in that time, despite the Blues' absence from the competition last season.
It also represents 67 per cent of his Champions League tally for the club, which is a remarkable ratio – and nearly all of them came in the 2015/16 season.
That, of course, was the year when Willian was named Chelsea's Player of the Year as he embarked on an incredible run of scoring from direct free-kicks.
His first two campaigns at the Bridge saw him net just the one Champions League goal, which was a tidy finish from inside the box against Schalke in a 5-0 win in Germany, but in the autumn of 2015 something clicked.
Maccabi Tel Aviv were the first side on the receiving end, and this was a set-piece which was straight out of the coaching manual. Shooting at goal from so far out was not an option, but the Brazilian sent in a teasing effort which evaded all of his team-mates but had just enough swerve on it to creep in at the back stick. It was, as the commentators no doubt said at the time, a goalkeeper's nightmare.
Next up he deceived the great Iker Casillas with the final kick of the half when we travelled to Porto. With the keeper expecting a shot to be whipped over the wall, Willian sent it into the corner nearest to Casillas, leaving the keeper flat-footed. Remarkably, this was the third of four straight games in all competitions to feature a free-kick goal by the Brazilian.
After a 0-0 draw with Dynamo Kiev, he was back to his old tricks when the Ukrainian side visited Stamford Bridge in the return. This was the pick of the bunch as he fired a wonderful set-piece into the top corner to give us a priceless win.
Maccabi were on the receiving end once again in our penultimate group match and, incredibly, it was another set-piece. This whipped effort over the wall gave the keeper no chance, as Willian equalled the record for most goals from direct free-kicks in a single Champions League season, drawing level with his compatriot and one of the finest dead-ball strikers of all time, Juninho Pernambucano.
He also added a fifth goal of the group-stage campaign against Porto, but it was from inside the box and it would be almost two years before he'd add to his tally.
Qarabag were our opponents as the Blues made our first trip to Azerbaijan and Willian was on fire in this game. He won two penalties, scored a wonderful goal from inside the box after linking up with Eden Hazard, and he also netted what many would call a Willian trademark. Picking the ball up on the half turn, he drove towards the edge of the box and let rip with a fierce strike that beat the keeper at his near post through sheer pace alone.
With his latest goal against Barca, Willian edged clear of Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar as Europe's sharpest shooter from outside the box.