Chelsea 1-0 Zenit: Romelu Lukaku gives Blues win in Champions League - BBC Sport
Chelsea opened their defence of the Champions League with a victory as Romelu Lukaku finally pierced Zenit St Petersburg's stubborn resistance at Stamford Bridge.
Lukaku, a £97.5m summer signing from Inter Milan, has already demonstrated his goal threat in the Premier League and was on the mark again with his first goal for Chelsea in the competition they won for the second time against Manchester City in June.
Chelsea were made to work hard as Zenit dug in but manager Thomas Tuchel's side stepped up the pace after the interval, Lukaku breaking the deadlock when he headed in at the far post from Cesar Azpilicueta's cross in the 69th minute.
The holders deserved the victory but Zenit missed a glorious chance to snatch a point when substitute Artem Dzyuba slid wide from six yards as he tried to turn in Sardar Azmoun's cross late on.Chelsea made to work for win
Chelsea's victory was not a surprise given their status as Champions League holders and their impressive start to the season but this showed they are more than willing to do the dirty work to get the job done when required.
And it was Lukaku, the talisman, who showed once again what a difference he will make to Chelsea by providing the cutting edge they often lacked last season, even though they won Europe's elite competition in Porto.
Lukaku's chances were limited as Zenit defended well and with real resilience but he pounced on the first opportunity he was given to score with a towering header.
Chelsea struggled to make any impression in the first half but it was clear Tuchel had ordered his players to move through the gears and they were much more forceful after the break.
If Lukaku is the main man in attack, it was defender Antonio Rudiger who set the tone at both ends to lift the Chelsea fans inside Stamford Bridge.
Rudiger lifted the noise levels with a surging run from inside his own half just after the re-start which ended with a shot that flashed just wide. He then made a vital challenge at the other end as Zenit's Iranian forward Azmoun threatened to give the visitors a shock lead, celebrating his interception with a fist pump to the crowd who appreciate the German's uncompromising style.
It was not Chelsea at their most impressive but, as they did against Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday, this is now a side that is almost the complete package. They are a side who find a way to win and Tuchel will be delighted to get three points on the board in the Champions League, especially as the other European superpower in Group H, Juventus, started their campaign with an impressive 3-0 win against Malmo in Sweden.
Tuchel will know there is much more to come from a Chelsea side tipped for success at home and abroad this season and he will be more than satisfied to start with three points.
Player of the match
Squad number9Player nameLukakuAverage rating
Squad number2Player nameRüdigerAverage rating
Squad number8Player nameKovacicAverage rating
Squad number28Player nameAzpilicuetaAverage rating
Squad number4Player nameChristensenAverage rating
Squad number29Player nameHavertzAverage rating
Squad number16Player nameMendyAverage rating
Squad number5Player nameJorginhoAverage rating
Squad number24Player nameJamesAverage rating
Squad number3Player nameAlonsoAverage rating
Squad number6Player nameThiago SilvaAverage rating
Squad number21Player nameChilwellAverage rating
Squad number22Player nameZiyechAverage rating
Squad number19Player nameMountAverage rating
Squad number12Player nameLoftus-CheekAverage rating
Squad number3Player nameDouglas SantosAverage rating
Squad number2Player nameChistyakovAverage rating
Squad number44Player nameRakitskiyAverage rating
Squad number10Player nameMalcomAverage rating
Squad number7Player nameAzmounAverage rating
Squad number5Player nameBarriosAverage rating
Squad number19Player nameSutorminAverage rating
Squad number22Player nameDzyubaAverage rating
Squad number64Player nameKravtsovAverage rating
Squad number8Player nameWendelAverage rating
Squad number11Player nameClaudinhoAverage rating
Squad number21Player nameErokhinAverage rating
Squad number1Player nameKritsyukAverage rating
Squad number14Player nameKuzyaevAverage rating
Squad number4Player nameKrugovoyAverage rating
Squad number17Player nameMostovoyAverage rating
- 28AzpilicuetaBooked at 45minsSubstituted forThiago Silvaat 83'minutes
- 3AlonsoSubstituted forChilwellat 83'minutes
- 19MountSubstituted forLoftus-Cheekat 90+3'minutes
- 22ZiyechSubstituted forHavertzat 63'minutes
- 6Thiago Silva
19Sutormin5Barrios2Chistyakov44Rakitskiy3dos Santos Justino de Melo
10Malcom8Valle da Silva14Kuzyaev11Rodrigues Parisi Leonel
- 44RakitskiyBooked at 62minsSubstituted forKrugovoyat 88'minutes
- 3dos Santos Justino de Melo
- 10MalcomSubstituted forDzyubaat 75'minutes
- 8Valle da SilvaSubstituted forErokhinat 76'minutes
- 14KuzyaevSubstituted forKravtsovat 82'minutes
- 11Rodrigues Parisi LeonelSubstituted forMostovoyat 88'minutes
Match ends, Chelsea 1, Zenit St Petersburg 0.