UEFA Youth League report: Porto 3 Chelsea 3

Ten-man Chelsea held on to earn a valuable point at Porto in this afternoon’s UEFA Youth League game, but Adi Viveash’s side should have taken all three after leading 3-0.

Goals from Kasey Palmer, Josimar Quintero and Kyle Scott inside the opening half-hour had seen us on course for a second successive win in this season’s competition, but the home side scored either side of the break to bring themselves back into the contest.

With 19 minutes remaining Palmer was dismissed for a second yellow card, and when Porto equalised through Ruben Macedo four minutes later, it became clear that a point would be a good result, and some resolute Chelsea defending late on ensured that’s how it stayed.

Adi Viveash made two changes to the side which opened our campaign with a 3-0 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv a fortnight ago, Ali Suljic coming in for Trevoh Chalobah at the back and Quintero replacing Miro Muheim wide on the right of the supporting attacking trio in behind Tammy Abraham . Palmer, who scored a brace against the Israeli side, was deployed in the ‘number 10’ role, with Jay Dasilva in a more advanced position on the left. Ola Aina started at right-back while Jake Clarke-Salter captained the team.

The Blues started the game brightly, enjoying plenty of possession and looking to get the ball forward quickly.

Within nine minutes we were in front and it was a goal which owed much to the build-up play between Quintero and Tammy Abraham .

The two players exchanged passes on the edge of the penalty area to put Abraham clean through, and although Porto goalkeeper Filipe Ferreira was off his line quickly and did well to make the save, the loose ball fell invitingly for Palmer who rolled it into an empty net.

It was Palmer’s third goal in this season’s competition already, and gave us an important early advantage.

Just eight minutes later the lead was extended and, having combined so impressively in the move which led to our opener, Quintero and Abraham were at it again.

This time the roles were reversed, with Abraham turning provider; an intelligent ball over the top put Quintero clean through and the finish was executed with style as the youngster lifted the ball over the head of Ferreira into the back of the net.

There was slight cause for concern moments later when Abraham looked to have come off worse as he challenged for possession just inside the Porto half, but the striker was quickly back on his feet.

We were looking a real threat every time we attacked and in the 26th minute another slick team move led to a third goal.

Dasilva picked it up just inside the Porto half and played a simple ball into the path of Palmer who ran at the retreating right-back Fernando. Palmer beat his man with a smart piece of skill and cut it back to Scott who calmly rolled the ball into the bottom corner.

The home side then threatened for the first time in the game, but Suljic did well to read the danger and cut out a dangerous cross at the front post. However, soon after Nathan Baxter had produced a magnificent save to deny Tony, the home side were awarded a penalty after Quintero was adjudged to have brought down Verdasca.

Porto captain Joao Cardoso took the resulting kick and reduced the deficit, sending Baxter the wrong way.

The home side were enjoying their best spell of the game and Baxter was called upon again when he produced a magnificent save to palm away a point-blank Tony strike which seemed destined to hit the back of the net.

As the second half began we were on the front foot, with Abraham unfortunate not to get on the end of a teasing Dasilva cross.

Seven minutes after the break, however, the hosts were well and truly back in the game when they scored again.

There looked to be little danger when Ruben Macedo picked up possession wide on the right, but his cross found Tony, and the striker glanced his header into the far corner to make it 3-2.

The goal prompted Viveash to make his second change of the game as Muheim came on for Suljic.  A tactical reshuffle saw the Blues switch to a 4-3-3, with the substitute slotting into a midfield role and Dasilva moving back into his familiar left-back position.

Charlie Colkett was then introduced to the action, replacing the impressive Quintero, but the midfielder had barely had a chance to touch the ball when we were reduced to 10 men as Palmer picked up a second yellow card following a challenge on Porto defender Jorge.

Four minutes later the home side back on level terms as Ruben Macedo made it 3-3.

David Sualehe delivered into the box, Macedo brought it down with his right foot and beat Baxter with a left-footed finish into the bottom corner.

With their tails up and a one-man advantage, Porto sensed the game was there for the taking, and with six minutes remaining Tony went mighty close to putting them in front, cutting inside his man and firing a fierce strike a fraction over the bar.

As the clock ticked down we had everyone behind the ball as we looked to limit the attacking threat of the hosts. Clarke-Salter and Aina stood tall in their individual battles and we held on to earn a precious point.

Manager reaction

Viveash was understandably frustrated with the way in which Porto were able to come back into the game, and he believes his young side will have learnt a valuable lesson.

‘We had a purple patch at the start of the game and scored three great goals, we were really clinical and they were all good finishes,’ he told the official Chelsea website. ‘Unfortunately we then suffered from a lack of discipline and started to play into their hands.

‘I’ve seen the challenge for their first goal and it was never a penalty. We were always on the back foot once their second goal went in and then Kasey went to ground, which we’d spoken about before the game and at half-time, which he probably regrets now. He was always going to get a second yellow.

‘Their third goal was poorly defended on our part and with 20 minutes to go I was glad to get a point. The players that were left on at the end gave every ounce they had and dug in, which gave us a point away from home. Would we have taken it before the game? Yes, but in the context of the match we’re disappointed.

‘Considering we were down to 10 men for over 20 minutes we’re glad to have got a draw and it feels like a point gained, rather than two lost.’

‘We have to be a better disciplined team than that, you have to keep your emotions in check and it’s a shame because it papers over the fact that for the first half-hour we were great.

‘There are a few players in this group who played last year and you what it’s going to be like, you can’t make the tackles you’d make in England.  We saw it last year when we played Sporting Lisbon.

‘With the other game being a draw as well (Dynamo Kiev drew 1-1 against Maccabi Tel Aviv) it’s a better point than it looks. We now go into two games against Kiev, who are unbeaten as well. We know it’s going to be extremely tough but hopefully the boys will learn the lesson that ill discipline will cost you, and it cost us today.’

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Nathan Baxter; Ola Aina, Jake Clarke-Salter (c), Fikayo Tomori , Ali Suljic (Miro Muheim 59); Mukhtar Ali (Ruben Sammut 38), Kyle Scott; Josimar Quintero (Charlie Colkett 65), Kasey Palmer, Jay Dasilva; Tammy Abraham .
Unused subs: Subs: Josh Grant, Isaac Christie-Davies, Ike Ugbo.
Scorers Palmer 9, Quintero 17, Scott 26
Scott 8, Ali 12, Tomori 34, Palmer 36, Suljic 45
Sent off Palmer 67

Porto (4-3-3): Filipe Ferreira; Fernando, Verdasca, Jorge (Rui Pedro 73), David Sualehe; Joao Cardoso (c), Bruno Costa, Moreto; Madi (Mesquita 84), Tony, Ruben Macedo (Luis Mata 90).
Unused subs
Mario Evora, Sandro Fonseca, Rui Pires, Madiu Bari, Luis Mata, Rui Pedro
Joao Cardoso 36 (pen), Tony 52, Ruben Macedo 71
Booked Jorge 69

Referee Juan Martinez Munuera (Spain)