Tuesday night in Austria, Chelsea defeated FC Salzburg 2-1, securing the group’s victor’s spot in the Champions League’s knockout stages.
Midway through the first half, the visitor’s Mateo Kovacic scored the game’s first goal, but Junior Adamu tied the score three minutes later. But in the 64th minute, a sensational goal from Kai Havertz gave the Blues the victory, putting them on top of Group E and out of reach of their opponents. For top sports betting offers check out our web pages.
In order to find out who will accompany Chelsea into the round of 16, Dinamo Zagreb will visit Stamford Bridge a week from Wednesday, while Salzburg will finish their Champions League group stage by traveling to AC Milan the following week.
With an incredible goal on Tuesday in Austria to defeat Salzburg 2-1 in Group E, Havertz guaranteed Chelsea’s place in the round of 16. The German attacker, who also scored the game-winning goals in the finals of the 2021 Champions League and the 2022 FIFA Club World Cup, provided Chelsea with another significant goal after Salzburg had threatened to erase a deficit in the first half to improve their own qualification chances.
With Adamu tying the score four minutes into the second half to cancel out Kovacic’s goal in the 23rd minute, Salzburg gained momentum and was poised to extend their unbeaten home record in all competitions to 41 games. But in the 64th minute, Havertz stunned the home crowd and gave Chelsea the victory with a left-foot effort from 20 yards that beat Philipp Kohn in goal after hitting the underside of the crossbar.
Chelsea would have needed to defeat Dinamo Zagreb at home on matchday six if they had lost to the Austrian champions in order to guarantee their qualification. With his goal, Havertz put an end to the possibility of a tense final contest, as Graham Potter extended his unbeaten streak as Chelsea manager to nine games since succeeding Thomas Tuchel in September.
Earlier this summer, Chelsea made a splash by acquiring Raheem Sterling from Manchester City for £47.5 million. However, the England attacker let another significant opportunity slip by in Salzburg. The 27-year-old has only scored once in his last 10 matches for the club, and it didn’t appear that he would break that dry run as Graham Potter’s men missed numerous opportunities to win the game easily.
Because Potter chose to utilize a three-man defense in Austria, Sterling was obliged to play as the left wing-back in this particular situation. The finest performance from a player who experienced his best form at City in a more advanced position or as a center forward under Pep Guardiola is not possible when they are playing out wide, where they have more defensive responsibilities.
Sterling had been explicitly instructed by Potter to stay as wide as possible in order to lengthen the field, and Christian Pulisic received the same instructions on the right wing, but the tactical strategy negated Sterling’s strongest points. For Chelsea to contend for awards this season, Sterling must contribute significantly more, therefore Potter’s challenge is to figure out how to extract more from one of his best players.
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Since the Austrian champions have the capacity to identify young talent, develop them, and then transfer those players to bigger clubs in more competitive divisions, Salzburg is recognized as having one of the best recruitment teams in Europe.
In particular, Erling Haaland, who scored on his Champions League debut as a teenager after joining from Molde, stands out among their excellent list of past players. However, along with Haaland, Salzburg has also paved the path for individuals like Sadio Mane, Dayot Upamecano, Takumi Minamino, and Karim Adeyemi to succeed elsewhere.
The 19-year-old Slovenian attacker Benjamin Sesko is considered to be the next great thing and has already been linked to Red Bull partner club RB Leipzig, but coach Matthias Jaissle chose to deploy him as a replacement due to the performance of 21-year-old striker Adamu. The international from Austria, who has eight goals in his last nine domestic matches, was given the start against Chelsea and gave his coach something to cheer about by scoring the equalizer early in the second half. Both Adamu and Sesko are set for transfers to bigger teams, and midfielder Luka Sucic and defender Strahinja Pavlovic are also making a significant impact.
With an average age of 22 years, Salzburg’s starting lineup has the lowest average age in the Champions League since 2009. The only teams to have ever fielded younger teams in the competition were Arsenal (2009) and Ajax (2003 and 2004).