Chelsea take comfort from clean sheet in Sevilla draw

The most newsworthy incident of the night probably came before kick-off, when Chelsea announced that Petr Cech was in their 25-man Champions League squad
Chelsea take comfort from clean sheet in Sevilla draw

Sevilla's Nemanja Gudelj (left) and Chelsea’s Kai Havertz battle for the ball at Stamford Bridge. Photo: Glyn Kirk/PA


It's 20 months since Chelsea last had a goalless draw, in the 2019 Carabao Cup final against Manchester City, but Frank Lampard can take some comfort from the fact his much-maligned defence kept a clean sheet, and the Blues avoided a repetition of last year's opening game defeat in the Champions League.

Stamford Bridge usually buzzes with anticipation and excitement on European nights, but this was its first Champions League game to be played behind closed doors, and the atmosphere was suitably subdued in a game of few chances.

Sevilla are no mugs, and should be Chelsea's toughest opponents in Group E, so a draw was no disgrace and means they finish the first round still level, with the lesser-fancied Rennes and Krasnodar also drawing, 1-1 in France.

The most newsworthy incident of the night probably came before kick-off, when Chelsea announced that Petr Cech was in their 25-man Champions League squad. The club explained it was an emergency measure because of the uncertainty in these troubled times, but it was hardly a ringing endorsement of Chelsea's goalkeeping options that they had brought their 38-year-old technical director out of retirement after an 18-month hiatus.

Kepa Arrizabalaga was signed for a world record fee to replace Cech, but the Spaniard is out of form and favour, and it was no surprise to see Edouard Mendy rushed back from injury for a return to the starting line-up.

Frank Lampard also brought Thiago Silva back to play alongside Kurt Zouma in a defence that had been heavily criticised after Chelsea conceded three goals to Southampton on Saturday. Silva, 36, did not look 100 per cent fit after a niggle in the warm-up but played on, and Zouma was having one of those nervy nights he's sometimes capable of.

Sevilla had the best chances of the first half and both involved Zouma, who almost scored an own goal when Nemanja Gudelj's header flicked off his head in the 18th minute. Mendy did well to change direction and claw away the goal-bound ball, sparing Zouma's blushes.

And the big defender was at fault again on the stroke of half-time when his horribly sliced clearance fell straight to Lucas Ocampos, whose firm drive forced Mendy into a low dive.

Suso also had a decent chance with a header at the far post but Ben Chilwell did enough to force the Spaniard off target. Chances for Chelsea were fewer in a tame first-half and all fell to Timo Werner, now playing as a central striker instead of wide on the left.

Christian Pulisic sent him clear of the Sevilla defence, but he overran the ball as he took it past goalkeeper Bono, and was flagged offside in any case. The German did force Bono to make a save after 31 minutes when he turned sharply in a crowded penalty area but his high shot was held comfortably by the keeper.

It was frustrating for Chelsea, who did not click into gear in the first half. Sevilla know how to play English teams, having beaten Manchester United twice and Wolves in the past two seasons, on their way to winning the Europa League for a record sixth time two months ago.

They always looked comfortable, although Chelsea forced more pressure on Bono in a short period early in the second half, with Pulisic switching wings from right to left and Mason Mount replaced by Hakim Ziyech after an hour.

Zouma had a great chance when he met Ben Chilwell's corner with a thumping header but put it straight into the goalkeeper's hands, and then Werner tried his luck from long range with a dipping shot that almost deceived Bono. 

Chilwell also put his header straight at the keeper from a Pulisic cross, but Sevilla also went close. First substitute Joan Jordan struck a superb 20-yard volley directly from Ivan Rakitic's corner kick, but the ball dipped just over the bar, and then Luuk de Jong had a header blocked by Reece James in front of goal.

Lampard's final throw of the dice was to send on Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi in the closing stages, but Sevilla always looked in control.

“It would have been nice to get a result at home, but we'll take the draw and a clean-sheet,” admitted Chilwell afterwards. You can't argue with that.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Mendy 7; James 7, Silva 6, Zouma 5, Chilwell 7; Jorginho 6 (Kovacic 64), Kante 7; Pulisic 6 (Hudson-Odoi 87), Havertz 6, Mount 6 (Ziyech 62); Werner 6 (Abraham 87). 

Sevilla (4-3-3): Bono 6; J Navas 6, Gomez 6 (Jordan 33), D Carlos 7, Acuna 7; Rakitic 6 (Vazquez 80), Fernando 6, Gudelj 7; Suso 6 (Torres 58), De Jong 6 (En Nesyri 80), Ocampos 6.

Ref: Davide Massa (Italy)

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox