London, Sep 14 (EFE).- Chelsea struggled for many of their opening contest of the new Champions League season, but a second-half goal by Romelu Lukaku was enough to offer the title holders a 1-0 victory here Tuesday night over Zenit Saint Petersburg. One scoring chance for the Belgian international was all the Blues needed to return away with three points at Stamford Bridge. On the play, Lukaku signaled together with his left arm that he wanted the ball and Cesar Azpilicueta sent in an exquisite lofted cross from far outside the penalty area for his teammate, who powered home a header just inside the near post within the 69th minute.
Sergei Semak’s men had quite held their own thereto juncture of the competition, not only defending well but creating chances on attack. Despite their offensive firepower, Chelsea struggled to interrupt down their opponent’s lines of 4 defenders and five midfielders. Lukaku played well together with his back to the Zenit goal but it had been not enough to make any danger within the final third. The visiting Russian squad, meanwhile, sought to leverage the speed of Iranian forward Sardar Azmoun and managed to supply the primary shot on goal within the 38th-minute of a mostly lackluster half.
The Premier League side came to life after the separate offensive sparks provided by Hakim Ziyech, Mason Mount, and even center back Antonio Rudiger, who nearly tallied the goal of the match with a run from his side of the sector to the Zenit area and a right-footed blast that went a few of meters wide of the far post. Zenit Saint Petersburg, for his or her part, nearly got the equalizer after Lukaku’s goal when substitute Artem Dzyuba received a cross from Azmoun but pushed his attempt just wide of the post.
“We struggled a touch to make chances and shots within the half,” Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel said after the match played ahead of nearly 40,000 fans. “In the last half, it had been a touch easier to seek out space and shoot. it had been a deserved win. hard-earned .” The 28-year-old Lukaku, who is back at Stamford Bridge (where he played early in his career) after Chelsea forked out a club-record 97.5-million-pound ($135 million) transfer fee to accumulate him from Inter Milan, credited Azpilicueta for sending during a “beautiful ball” to line up the game’s only goal.
With their win, Chelsea is now in second place in Group H behind Juventus, who defeated Malmo 3-0 on Tuesday and have the sting in goal differential. Semak said of his players that they “allowed Chelsea quite we should always have after the interval.” “We had an excellent chance at the top and didn’t take it,” the Zenit manager said. “It’s still a good result. Chelsea was the higher team and deserved to win. But overall we had an honest game, especially defensively.” EFE