Krasnodar (Russia): Chelsea enjoyed its first match in front of fans in nearly eight months, beating Krasnodar 4-0 in the Champions League to spoil the Russian club’s home debut in the competition.
Krasnodar goalkeeper Matvei Safonov let a shot from Callum Hudson-Odoi squirm through his grasp and over the line to gift Chelsea a 37th-minute lead, before Timo Werner from the penalty spot Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic added further goals in the second half.
Russian authorities allowed 11,000 fans into Krasnodar Stadium in the south of the country amid the coronavirus pandemic for what was arguably the biggest match in the history of a club founded just 12 years ago.
It was the first time Chelsea had played a competitive match in a stadium containing fans since before the outbreak of the virus in March.
One of those inside the stadium was Roman Abramovich, Chelsea’s Russian billionaire owner, who sat in a VIP box alongside the oligarch who owns Krasnodar, Sergey Galitski. It was a rare sighting of Abramovich at a Chelsea game because he has had no visa to enter Britain since 2018.
Krasnodar had nine players unavailable for various reasons the team only named five outfield players on the bench and its lack of options showed in the second half as Chelsea ran away with the game to secure its first win of Group E, having started with a 0-0 draw at home to Sevilla.
Krasnodar has a point after two games after its 1-1 draw at Rennes last week.
After Jorginho struck a penalty against the post for Chelsea in the 14th minute following a trip on Werner, Hudson-Odoi gave the visitors the lead when he collected a pass from Kai Havertz and cut inside before unleashing a shot that was spilled into the net by Safonov, Krasnodar’s highly rated academy prospect.
The closest Krasnodar came to equalizing was when Yury Gazinski met a corner with a volley into the ground and up against the crossbar in the 55th minute.
Chelsea capitalized on that let-off with a flurry of goals from the 76th, when Werner made it 2-0 by converting a penalty after Pulisic’s shot hit the outstretched arm of Aleksandr Martynovich.
Ziyech marked his first start for Chelsea since his offseason move from Ajax with the third in the 79th after he was picked out by Werner in the area.
And Pulisic, a second-half substitute, scored low inside Safonov’s near post in the 90th minute from Tammy Abraham’s pass to complete the win.