Tuchel’s Chelsea marred by Mislav magic

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Tuchel’s Chelsea marred by Mislav magic
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Thomas Tuchel’s 100th game in charge of Chelsea ended in a surprise defeat as Dinamo Zagreb claimed a memorable 1-0 win in their Champions League Group E opener at Stadion Maksimir. 

The first real chance came when Raheem Sterling found Kai Havertz and the German, who scored the winner against West Ham United on Saturday, fizzed in a superb cross that just eluded debutant Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. However, the first effort on target saw Dinamo take the lead on 13 minutes thanks to a clinical breakaway. Bruno Petkovic received a Robert Ljubičić pass and deftly nodded it into the path of Mislav Oršić, who trapped the header brilliantly inside his own half and impressively outpaced Wesley Fofana before slipping the ball past Kepa Arrizabalaga on the Spaniard’s first competitive appearance since March in the absence of the injured Édouard Mendy.

The goal was Oršić’s 150th club career strike; the forward scored a sensational hat-trick to knock Tottenham Hotspur out of the Europa League two seasons ago and also scored a group-stage winner at West Ham last term in Europe’s second-tier competition. Kepa was then forced to parry a stinging drive from the hosts’ captain Arijan Ademi as Chelsea struggled to impose themselves in the first half.

At the start of the second period, Aubameyang failed to get significant contact on another dangerous Havertz delivery and at the other end, Stefan Ristovski reminded the English giants to be on their guard as his rasper was tipped onto the crossbar by Arrizabalaga. Havertz had a case for a penalty after being barged by Šutalo, but the protests were dismissed, before Aubameyang was taken off for Armando Broja just shy of the hour. Two inviting Reece James crosses evaded the Albanian and Ante Čačić’s men continued to defend resolutely, with the tireless Ljubičić getting back cleverly to divert Havertz’s close-range effort behind. Chelsea continued to pile forwards in search of an equaliser, but James hit the base of Dominik Livaković’s left-hand post and the goalkeeper then made an instinctive stop from Mason Mount as Dinamo survived eight minutes of stoppage time.

The Croatian champions, already eight points clear in the defence of their crown, go to San Siro next Wednesday to face AC Milan, while Tuchel’s men host Red Bull Salzburg later the same day.

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