Tuesday, September 19
 

Live Commentary: Chelsea 6-0 Qarabag FK

Relive Sports Mole's live coverage of Chelsea's 6-0 victory over Qarabag FK in the Champions League.

Chelsea have started their Champions League campaign with a dominant 6-0 victory over group-stage debutants Qarabag FK.

Antonio Conte's side controlled the contest from start to finish with Pedro, Davide Zappacosta, Cesar Azpilicueta, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Michy Batshuayi all getting on the scoresheet before Maksim Medvedev put through his own net.

Eden Hazard also continued his comeback from a fractured ankle in what proved to be a perfect evening for the Premier League club.

Read below to see how the action unfolded at Stamford Bridge.

6.46pmHello, and welcome to Sports Mole's live coverage of the match in the Champions League between Chelsea and Qarabag FK.
6.49pmWhen Chelsea regained the Premier League back in 2015, everyone associated with the Blues probably believed that it was the start of years of Champions League football. However, their dismal domestic showing during the following campaign led to Chelsea missing out last season. Of course, their absence had its benefits because Antonio Conte was able to focus on reclaiming the top-flight crown but the desire remained to feature in European football's premier competition. A year and a half on from losing out to Paris Saint-Germain in the knockout stages, the West Londoners get their opportunity to make another bid to try to add to the trophy they famously lifted in 2012.
6.52pmChelsea will need to play both Atletico Madrid and Roma during the group stages, but their competition begins by hosting newcomers Qarabag, who are competing in their first-ever fixture in the main draw of the Champions League. The Azerbaijani side are certainly no slouches - they have been regulars in the Europa League - but this represents a considerable step up in what is only there third contest against an English club.
6.53pmRight, it is time for some team news. Conte promised that he would make some changes to his starting lineup, so let's see if the Italian has stuck to his word...
6.54pmCHELSEA XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Zappacosta, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Batshuayi, Pedro
7.00pmWe are still waiting on news of the Chelsea substitutes but let's assess that starting lineup. The stand-out alteration is the inclusion of Michy Batshuayi, with Alvaro Morata dropping down to the bench. Gary Cahill comes into the defence after serving a three-match domestic suspension, while Andreas Christensen also gets another chance to impress. Davide Zappacosta gets a first start at right wing-back, while Willian makes an appearance further forward. David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger, Victor Moses and Tiemoue Bakayoko are the players to drop out.
7.01pmCHELSEA SUBSTITUTES: Caballero, Rudiger, Luiz, Moses, Bakayoko, Hazard, Morata
7.03pmEach of the players to drop out feature among the replacements, as does Eden Hazard, who is not being rushed back after recovering from a fractured ankle. We would expect the Belgian to play some part in the second half.
7.04pmQARABAG FK XI: Sehic; Medvedev, Sadiqov, Huseynov, Jeznicak; Qarayev, Almeyda; Gerrye, Micelm, Enrike; Ndlovu
7.09pmWe won't lie to you - Azerbaijani football isn't our strong point. However, let's bring you some information on some of Qarabag's key men, with goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic representing Bosnia-Herzegovina on the international stage, and striker Dino Ndlova having netted the majority of the goals which took Qarabag to the league title last season. Richard Almeyda has also starred for Qarabag over the years, with the Brazilian-born midfielder having netted 33 goals in 143 appearances since 2012.
7.14pmIt probably goes without saying that this is the first match between the two clubs, but this is not the first time which Qarabag have faced English opposition. In 2015, tonight's visitors played Tottenham Hotspur on two occasions, with the game at White Hart Lane ending in in a 3-1 win for Spurs, before the North Londoners edged the reverse encounter by a 1-0 scoreline thanks to Harry Kane.
7.18pmAs we have already mentioned, Qarabag have featured in the Europa League group stages during the past three seasons, although they have never qualified for the knockout rounds. Last year, they suffered 2-1 and 5-1 defeats to Fiorentina, but they did do the double over PAOK. The season before that, they registered a credible 1-1 draw at home to an emerging AS Monaco side, while in 2014, Inter Milan were held to a goalless draw. There are some credible results on their record, so Chelsea cannot afford to underestimate their opponents.
7.23pmThat said, we don't think that complacency is a word that can ever be associated with Conte. The Blues head coach has installed a driven, win-at-all-costs mentality into his first-team squad and the opening-day defeat to Burnley in the Premier League should probably be classed as a blessing in disguise. Since that fixture, Chelsea have fought to wins over Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Leicester City and while there were reports of discontent during the summer, any disagreements appear to be put on the backburner.
7.27pmRegardless of Conte's rotation, Chelsea are still expected to prevail at a canter, but all eyes will be on the performances of Andreas Christensen, Davide Zappacosta and Michy Batshuayi. Each of the trio have points to prove for varying reasons, with Christensen being one of the few Chelsea academy graduates to be given an opportunity by Conte, Zappacosta making his first outing at Stamford Bridge and Batshuayi needing to show that he should be classed as more than just a deputy to Morata. On the players which have missed out, it is somewhat of a surprise not to see Charly Musonda on the substitutes' bench. In theory, this was one of the games that the creative midfielder could have gained further senior experience.
7.31pmThe other game in this group sees Roma host Atletico Madrid. If you are associated with Chelsea, you are probably hoping for anything other than a Roma success, based on the likelihood that the Blues will see Atletico as their main competition. Roma also possess plenty of quality but you don't really want to be facing Atletico when requiring points just to reach the last 16.
7.34pmQARABAG FK SUBSTITUTES: Kanibolotskiy, Amirquliyev, Madatov, Elyounoussi, Ismayilov, Yunuszada, Diniyev
7.37pmPREDICTION! We are going to predict a Chelsea win but we do not expect Qarabag to be pushovers. This is the biggest game in their history - they have never experienced the Champions League music in the group stage so will be eager to rise to the occasion - but Chelsea should have enough to claim a 2-0 triumph.
7.43pmThe two teams have made their way out at Stamford Bridge. The atmosphere is intense rather than welcoming - this is a significant match for both so we wouldn't expect any different. The Champions League music has sounded and we are almost ready for kickoff.
1 minQarabag get us underway.
3 minIt has been a strong start from the visitors, who have already managed to force Pedro into a mistake in his defensive third and got a cross into the penalty area. They look composed on the ball, too. Certainly not overawed.
4 minCHANCE! The first opportunity of the game goes to Alonso, who collects a knockdown from Batshuayi before forcing a solid save out of Sehic from around 14 yards out.
5 minGOAL! Chelsea 1-0 Qarabag FK (Pedro)
5 minCan a goal be simple and wonderful at the same time? It probably is on this occasion. Willian sets up Pedro on the edge of the area and the Spaniard curls a first-time effort into the corner from 20 yards out. The pressure from the defence was non-existent.
8 minI would like to change my opinion on Qarabag's resoluteness. They are all over the place in defence and Chelsea look like they could win this without moving out of second gear.
11 minQarabag have come back into the game to a certain extent but Chelsea are alert at the back. Christensen looks desperate to make an impression. The Dane has already made some nice interceptions.
15 minFair play to Qarabag. They have earned a corner and forced Alonso into committing a needless foul on the edge of the area. Chelsea aren't having it their own way, which is the best compliment I can pay to the visitors so far.
16 minBOOKING! Cahill has just come back from a domestic suspension but that hasn't changed his approach. The Blues skipper is carded for a poor challenge on Pedro Henrique, who may struggle to continue.
19 minCHANCES! Much better from Chelsea. A neat flick from Batshuayi sets up Willian, who is denied by Sehic from 20 yards. The rebound falls to Batshuayi but the angle is too tight.
22 minChelsea are finding a good balance now. They are patient in possession and are picking the right moments to show more ambition in the final third. Fabregas just picked out Zappacosta's run on the right but the Italian was offside.
26 minThere's a feisty little battle emerging between Cahill and Henrique. The Qarabag midfielder just barged Cahill after a corner before waltzing past the centre-back in the final third. We will keep an eye on that one. Henrique was justifiably none too pleased with Cahill's late challenge earlier in the match.
29 minThis is certainly not a game full of chances, but it is interesting nevertheless. Chelsea are a class above, but there is something about this Qarabag side. You can see why they have qualified for the Europa League group stages during the past three seasons.
30 minGOAL! Chelsea 2-0 Qarabag FK (Zappacosta)
30 minWhat a goal from Zappacosta! I'm not sure he meant it - it has got a touch of Harry Kane's goal against Everton from the weekend - but the Italian completely deceives Sehic from the right flank with the ball going inside the near post.
34 minWithout underestimating Qarabag, that is probably the three points in the bag for Chelsea. The Blues are continuing to press forward and they want a third before the break.
35 minSHOT! This time, Zappacosta definitely took a shot but on this occasion, his left-foot effort went well wide of the far post. It's early days, but Chelsea look to have made an excellent signing.
37 minSHOT! Back come Qarabag with Henrique cutting inside onto his left foot, but his low effort is well held by Courtois. That's the Chelsea goalkeeper's first bit of work this since kickoff.
40 minChelsea have dominated much of this game, but Christensen has been class at the back. Chelsea are being rewarded for allowing him to gain regular action at Borussia Monchengladbach.
43 minI think both teams are now waiting for the half-time whistle to go. The tempo has dipped over the past couple of minutes.
45 minThere will be one minute of added-on time.
45+1 minHALF TIME: Chelsea 2-0 Qarabag FK
8.33pmThe half-time whistle goes at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea hold a deserved lead thanks to goals from Pedro and Zappacosta. It hasn't been a walk in the park for the Blues, but it hasn't been far off. The three points should be in the bag but Conte will want more goals in the second half.
8.46pmThe two teams have made their way back out at Stamford Bridge. No changes for either side.
49 minChelsea have come out for the restart on the front foot, with Cahill already seeing a volley deflected over the crossbar. Willian and Fabregas are having plenty of the ball as well. Conte wants a third goal as soon as possible.
51 minSHOT! Ndlovu tries to take matters into his own hands for Qarabag but his speculative effort from distance goes straight at Courtois.
55 minChelsea have decided to sit back and allow Qarabag to have some time on the ball. It has resulted in a bit of a stalemate before the visitors aren't taking any risks.
55 minGOAL! Chelsea 3-0 Qarabag FK (Azpilicueta)
55 minThat's certainly game over now. A quick free goes to Fabregas, who delivers a ball into the penalty area with the outside of his boot and Azpilicueta glances a header past Sehic from around eight yards.
58 minSUBSTITUTION! It's time for Hazard. The Belgian playmaker steps up his comeback from a fractured ankle as he replaces Pedro.
62 minI can't see Chelsea forcing the pace in the final third of this match. They have already done enough and with Arsenal to come on Sunday, Conte will want his players to conserve energy. More changes on the way.
63 minSUBSTITUTION! Kante is going to be given a rare rest, with Tiemoue Bakayoko being introduced in his place.
65 minSHOT! The ball falls invitingly for Zappacosta to try to score another long-range effort, but his volley is miscued well wide of the far post. Maybe the supporters will now stop shouting "shoot" every time he receives the ball...
67 minWOODWORK! Chelsea work a two-on-one situation with Willian and Hazard but the Brazilian decides to take the shot on and strikes the top of the crossbar.
70 minSUBSTITUTIONS! Double change for Qarabag as Mahir Madatov and Joshgun Diniyev come on for Sadygov and Garayev.
71 minGOAL! Chelsea 4-0 Qarabag FK (Bakayoko)
71 minChelsea continue to cruise at Stamford Bridge. Qarabag can't clear a corner and Bakayoko makes no mistake from eight yards, with his shot being deflected into the roof of the net.
75 minSUBSTITUTION! Conte uses his last change to bring on Antonio Rudiger to replace Azpilicueta.
76 minGOAL! Chelsea 5-0 Qarabag FK (Batshuayi)
76 minChelsea are turning on the style at Stamford Bridge, while Qarabag have practically given up. Batshuayi gets onto the scoresheet with a low drive into the bottom corner from 20 yards out.
80 minStill the 10 minutes to go at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea want a sixth but I think Conte just wants his players to run down the clock. This has been the perfect game, so far.
82 minGOAL! Chelsea 6-0 Qarabag FK (Batshuayi)
82 minI am starting to feel sorry for Qarabag but they are doing themselves no favour. Zappacosta breezes into the penalty area from the right flank and he finds Batshuayi, who bundles the ball into the net from close range with a bit of help from a defender.
87 minCHANCE! Qarabag should be on the scoresheet! Ndlovu cut inside onto his right foot and despite being under little pressure, the striker drilled his shot over the crossbar.
90 minThere will be three minutes of added-on time.
90+4 minFULL TIME: Chelsea 6-0 Qarabag FK
9.38pmThe full-time whistle goes at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea have marked their return to the Champions League with an easy 6-0 win. Even better for Antonio Conte and his side, Roma have held Atletico Madrid to a goalless draw in Italy, so the Premier League outfit sit at the top of the group.
9.39pmThat will be all from Sports Mole for this match. Thank you for joining us this evening and we hope to see you again soon. Goodbye for now.

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