Chelsea news: The Blues surrender top spot in Champions League group after 3-3 draw in Zenit

Timo Werner scored a brace and Romelu Lukaku was also on target for Chelsea but Zenit secured a point courtesy of goals from Claudinho, Sardar Azmoun and Ozdoev.

Zenit and Chelsea played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in the Champions League fixture on Wednesday; Credit: Twitter/@ChampionsLeague
By Sreejith C R | Dec 9, 2021 | 4 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Chelsea conceded a 94th minute equalizer at Krestovsky stadium to settle for a 3-3 draw against Zenit and surrender top spot in Champions League Group H on Wednesday. Timo Werner opened the scoring for Chelsea before Claudinho equalized and Sardar Azmoun gave the lead to Zenit going into the break. However, after the break, Romelu Lukaku leveled the score for the Blues before Werner restored the lead with his second of the night. But substitute Magomed Ozdoev netted a stoppage time equalizer to share the points.

Ozdoev’s stunning equalizer meant that Juventus finished as group winners by virtue of their 1-0 win over Malmo in Turin. It means Chelsea will face a seeded team in the last 16, with the likes of Bayern Munich or Real Madrid awaiting them in next week’s draw for the first knockout stage. Thomas Tuchel’s side had the better head-to-head record against Juventus but finished two points behind them.

Tuchel made eight changes to the side which lost 3-2 at West Ham last saturday. Saul Niguez tested Zenit goalkeeper Mikhail Kerzhakov with his marauding run inside the opening minute. And the visitors took the lead from the resulting corner. Ross Barkley’s corner kick from the left flank was tucked in by Werner at the far post.

The home side took a bit of time to settle in, but once they did, they were able to open up the opposition defence on a number of ocassions. Claudinho cut inside from the left and played through Malcom on the right. The Brazilian found himself in a one-on-one situation with Kepa Arrizabalaga, but the Chelsea custodian quickly came off the line to close the gap and deny Zenit the equalizer with a fine save. Few moments later, Mount had the chance to double Chelsea’s lead when he met Lukaku’s cross at the far post but his volley from close range was brilliantly saved by Kerzhakov.

In the 38th minute, Chelsea were punished for their poor defending. Douglas Santos sent in a brilliant cross from the left for Claudinho to head home beyond Kepa and level the score. The Brazilian was allowed to have a free header inside the box. Three minutes later, Zenit took the lead for the first time in the match. Malcolm played a brilliant through ball from the middle to release Azmoun on goal. The Iranian footballer rounded Kepa before slotting home into an empty net.

Although the hosts were playing some good passing football and causing all sorts of problems to Chelsea, Tuchel’s side finally responded after the hour-mark. Werner played a quick one-two with Barkley on the edge of the box before setting up Lukaku to tap in from close range into an unguarded net.

Zenit were still creating good chances at the other end and Kepa had to be on his toes. Claudinho’s deflected cross was headed towards the bottom corner by Azmoun and Kepa had to make a superb low save to claw the ball to safety.

Werner’s second of the night and Ozdoev’s sensational injury-time equalizer

With just five minutes remaining, Werner completed his brace after a fine team move. Kai Havertz played a one-two with Hakim Ziyech before sliding the ball through for Werner on the left side of the penalty area. The German forward cut inside to beat Vyacheslav Karavaev before burying his finish underneath Kerzhakov. After a brief VAR check for offside, the goal stood.

Six additional minutes were added on and Chelsea were looking to kill the game but some poor game management cost them. Andrey Mostovoy’s cross was headed out by Sarr, but Ozdoev who was lurking just outside the area, speered a first-time shot beyond Kepa into the roof of the net to spark wild celebrations in Zenit.

Tuchel said after the match, “I won’t take it personally that you make a judgement here that my players are not listening to me, which I don’t find so nice but I leave it with you and your opinion.

“I think that we had a very good first 15 minutes and we stopped doing the things we did in the first 15 minutes.

“We were forgetting why we were the better team, because of the investment, the level of concentration, the level of physical investment was high enough to be the better team.

“Once this drops, five, 10 per cent, and it does; once we start managing results and changing our behaviour from what the score is, we get punished at the moment.

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