Half-time: Dynamo Kyiv 0-3 Chelsea (agg: 0-6)
Chelsea, unperturbed by the pitch, have royally outclassed their hosts. They have been in charge from the start and look like they could score as many goals as they want. This tie is done.
GOAL! Kyiv 0-3 Chelsea (Alonso 45+1) (Agg: 0-6)
More confirmation of Chelsea’s dominance, as Alonso stabs into the net from two yards after Hudson-Odoi teed him up following a snappy one-two with Giroud.
44 min: Willian’s corner is put behind for another, Kidziora heading it wide before Rüdiger could connect.
43 min: Alonso wins a corner on the left after another zesty move by Chelsea. They’re lording it over their hosts here.
41 min: Hudson-Odoi zips a nice pass in to Giroud, but this time the striker’s touch is hefty. Otherwise he would have been in for a hat-trick. “For me Giroud joins Ashley Cole and Nicolas Anelka as players I have almost completely forgotten once played for Arsenal,” chirps Drew Chappell. “As a Chelsea player he’s been reliable, hard-working and a genuinely nice bloke from what I’ve seen.” Drew sent that message by email, because social media algorithms forbid gentle praise.
39 min: Garmash slices an attempted clearance, almost sending a corner by Willian into his own goal! Boyko tips it over the bar for another corner. Giroud gets on the end of this one but nods over from close range.
36 min: This would be a perfect time to spring some youngsters from the bench – such as Ampadu – but there are none on it, as Sarri filled it with big guns just in case this match started to go awry. That’s how important this competition has become to Chelsea, and the very fact he allowed for the possibility of Chelsea getting themselves into trouble shows he is still not fully convinced by his powers of motivation over them. But they’ve been spot on today.
34 min: That goal, by the way, came from the left, which is where Chelsea have made the majority of their gains. Hudson-Odoi has not been as heavily involved down the right.
GOAL! Kyiv 0-2 Chelsea (Giroud 32) (agg: 0-5)
It’s yet another goal in this competition for Giroud – his eighth this season – and it came from a wonderful pass by Alonso from the left after Loftus-Cheek began the move in midfield. Giroud was left with a straightforward finish from 15 yards and he made no mistake.
30 min: Got to hand it to the home crowd: they continue to make a mighty din despite the utter hopelessness of their team’s predicament.
27 min: Kanté hares down the right, the cuts in-field and spots a clever run by Giroud, who he slips in. Giroud takes it to the byline and then chips it back towars his compatriot, who had continued his run in the hope of getting on the end of jsut such a pass. But he’s foiled by Kedziora, who makes an acrobatic clearance right in front of his own goal.
25 min: Dynamo have got a foothold in the game, insofar as they’re having a fair bit of possession now. But they still do not look capable of prising open the visitors, who so far do not look like lapsing into complacency.
23 min: Freekick to Dynamo in a reasonable shooting position – about 25 yards out, to the left of the D.
21 min: Garmash pokes the ball into the net after running beyond Christensen to collect a pass. But he was way offside and Arrizabalega barely tried to make a save, knowing the effort wouldn’t stand.
19 min: The crowd are whistling in an effort to put Chelsea off. Worth a try, I suppose, since nothing their team has tried has worked. Chelsea are making this look very easy.
16 min: The crowd leap to their feet in anticipation as Tysgankov hurtles down the right. But his cross is weak. Chelsea zoom straight down the other end and get themselves into an even better crossing position. But William’s cross is just as bad.
14 min: Chelsea file back and take a breather, safe in the knowledge that Kyiv can’t do them any harm with the ball. Sure enough, Dynamo play it around in front of them for a while before Kanté decides to step in and take it back.
12 min: Alonso slips a pass through to the underlapping Loftus-Cheek, who tries to fire low into the far corner. The keeper makes a good save, pushing it around for another corner. Willian delivers another outswinger. Giroud meets it with his head but it’s a comfortable save for Boyko.
10 min: Willian, wide on the left, nudges the ball past the defender and chases after it, but his nudge was too heavy. Nevermind, he can blame the pitch. That’s the upside of dodgy pitches.
8 min: Chelsea are in cruise control now. That early goal has deflated Kyiv and their priority now is to avoid a pummelling. Chelsea have a glide in their stride.
6 min: That was Giroud’s seventh goal in seven Europa League matches this season. Is he going to fire them to the Champions League? “I think qualifying through the league position would rely on other results far too much given our wobbly form and agree a Europa League win seems a bit more straightforward, though by no means easy,” reckons Ray Speakeasy. “Plus, it seems that’s the only way we’ll see Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek so Europa it is!”
GOAL! Kyiv 0-1 Chelsea (Giroud 5) (Agg: 0-4)
Willian sends over an outswinging corner. Alonso heads it on at the near post and Giroud taps into the net rom six yards. That’s the tie sealed, surely!
5 min: Giroud charges down an attempted clearance by Kadar and then battles to win a throw-in wide on the right. Bright play by the man in yellow.
4 min: A foul by Rüdiger gievs Kyiv a chance to deliver a freekick from the left. IT’s pinged in nicely, forcing Zappacosta to turn it behind for a corner. Kyiv takes it short before Shepeliev sends over another dangerous cross from the left. Rüdiger nuts it away. An encouraging bit of pressure there from the hosts.
1 min: Chelsea kick off, and within seconds Williams delivers a cross from the left. Kyiv whack it clear.
Here come the teams. It’s a col five degrees in Kyiv and the crowd are in vibrant form by the sounds of it. The hosts are in white, Chelsea are wearing buttery yellow shirts and shorts with blue socks – the colours of Ukraine, as it happens.
Chelsea are sixth place in the Premier League, three points behind arsenal with a match in hand. Their remaining domestic fixtures include a trips to Liverpool and fifth-place Manchester United. So here’s the question: do they have a better chance of reaching next season’s Champions League through the Premier League or by winning the Europa League? I’m saying the latter, simply because it probably entails winning fewer games (from this point).
“If we think we have already won it’s really very dangerous. So I said to them to play to win. If we win the match, qualification will be secured. The pitch is not in good condition. That’s a problem more for us but it’s for 22 players.”
Kyiv: Boyko; Kedziora, Burda, Kadar, Mykolenko; Sydorchuk, Shepeliev; Tsygankov, Shaparenko, Sidcley; Garmash
Subs: Bushchan, Tché, Andriyevsky, Bueno, Shabanov, Smimiy, Albekov
Chelsea: Arrizabalega; Zappacosta, Rüdiger, Chistensen, Alonso; Kanté, Kovacic, Loftus-Cheek; Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Willian
Subs: Cabellero, Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Jorginho, Barkley, Pedro Hazard
Referee: T Stieler (Ger)
Carefree? Not Chelsea. They may go into this game with a 3-0 lead from the first leg but the Premier League side have a lot on their mind. For a start, Maurizio Sarri has denounced the pitch in Kyiv as “a disaster … really dangerous” and fears his players are at risk of serious injury. That, as much as their advantage from the first leg, is why he may omit some regular starters today, especially with a tricky game at Everton to come on the domestic front, where Chelsea are lagging in the race for the top four. Gonzalo Higuain, however, is out because of illness. Everton, by the way, may also be on Kyiv minds: because they were the opponents the last time the Ukrainian side overturned a first-leg deficit to advance. That was in 2015 and they had only lost the first match 2-1, but some inspiration for the hosts, all the same. Let’s see what good it does them today.