Bitez Borisov 0 Chelsea 1
For Chelsea, this mission was completed, perhaps not convincingly, but with abundant returns. Maurizio Sarri's team remains undefeated in competitive action under his dominance, which feels slightly remarkable in November, and with two group games still playing, maintains a perfect record in this group to move on to the knockout phase in February . The Italian may have been dissatisfied with the aspects of this performance, but could not ask for more than the result.
It was Olivier Giroud, a player who has worked at the end of this season, who secured their passage to the last 32 with a headline of the second half to break his own duck for a stop-start campaign.
The French striker had endured 794 minutes without a football score for the club, stretching back to the lone goal against Liverpool in the first week of May, ahead of this winner. As Álvaro Morata returned to life late, Giroud's reward felt timely. Chelsea will need options for the heap to come.
The frozen fog, unfolded from the dense forests around Barysaw, had made this an inhospitable occasion long before the locals started off on their miserable racquet with the aim of inspiring their own.
Bate certainly offered more resistance than he had back in Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, and the opening of the cup could have taken an early lead, while Chelsea still found some rhythm.
However, Dmitry Braga's move from 25 yards, causing Kepa Arrizabalaga to surprise him from the noise, left his post to shake, with the goalkeeper putting the head of the close team of Nikolay Signevic. It would not be the only time the homeland would hit the wood.
Sarri's frustration at the beginning was transmitted at least to his players from the margins, with the visitors shuffling to something approaching the action and enjoying an almost monopoly of occupation after that.
However, much of the approach game has come to the forefront. There have been occasional high quality flashes, from progressive Ross Barkley or Davide Zappacosta overlay to tight control of Pedro or Eden Hazard.
His previous involvement in this contest resulted in a 36-minute rescue operation against Vidi at the beginning of last month, with a first start almost three weeks after the problem. It was his corner where Giroud, climbing to the center, was marginally guided from far off.
However, this effort was as close as the visitors came to compel to lead this slog from a first bout – Chelsea had never previously recorded a shot at the target in a first half under Sarri – and the players had definitely retired to tell their coach how inefficient the screen was.
His mood improved little in the recovery, the Italian struck with anger at any free kick or attack, until one of his players just measured the last pass.
It was Emerson Palmieri, so he fell to the left, who handed the card, hitting a center toward the nearby spot where Giroud jumped to connect. The World Cup winner's header fell to the top and beyond Denis Serbric's attempt to save and Chelsea had the advantage they had longed for.
That should have been because, given the predominant nature of the Premier League side, it was the control of the occupation, with Hazard – only scheduled to play half here – duly cut off immediately after the hour.
But the goal really served to open the contest on both ends. Scherbitski outraged rescues Barkley and Giroud, while Bate, taking advantage of a short-lived Ruben Loftus-Cheek struggle, remained subversive as Stanislav Dragun's optimistic shot was deflected to the horizontal by Signevich with Kepa helpless.
The goalkeeper would have fought to refuse Alexei Rios later only for the defensive to panic in the Siegnevich cut, which ends in Chelsea's tough support behind the goal.
The final tremor was for the stoppage time when the host was forced to a corner and, with the confused visitors, the substitute Evgeni Berezkin reiterated the Braga trick from the first half and dropped a shot at the bar with Kepa beat.
Somehow the loose sphere was confused, with the final whistle, seconds later, causing relief and progress. – Guardian