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Saturday 24 August 2019

Pedro strikes to give Chelsea vital 'away goal'

Leveller: Pedro. Photo: PA
Leveller: Pedro. Photo: PA

Pedro's crucial strike scrambled Chelsea a frenetic 1-1 Europa League semi-final first leg draw at Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Spain forward's 12th goal of the season kept the Blues in the tie after Luka Jovic headed the hosts into an early lead.

The Blues had to battle a hostile and raucous home crowd at the Commerzbank Arena, on a night where Ruben Loftus-Cheek shone.

Loftus-Cheek laid on Pedro's goal and bossed midfield every time Chelsea dominated; the Blues' biggest problem however was maintaining that kind of control.

Head coach Maurizio Sarri will probably be relatively satisfied with this result, but Chelsea will hope not to rue missed chances in next Thursday's return leg.

Andreas Christensen was lucky to avoid a red card on tense night for the Blues' stretched defence.

Sarri's men felt pressure build through the absence of injured duo Antonio Rudiger and Gary Cahill, even before Eintracht powered into early control.

Jorginho had to be patched up after a clash of heads, sporting a sizeable bandage for the majority of the second-half.

Olivier Giroud survived a furious Frankfurt appeal for a penalty, with the ball hitting the France forward's body in the area.

But despite all the setbacks and a worryingly sluggish start, Chelsea still merited the draw.

The Blues failed to heed the warning signs, and leaked a poor goal to compound their poor start.

Filip Kostic cantered down the left after Giroud ceded possession cheaply, before whipping in a neat cross.

A stooping Jovic flicked the ball to the far corner, but failed to add power to his effort.

So when the ball bounced past Kepa and into the net, Chelsea looked stunned.

Finally Chelsea settled though, Loftus-Cheek drilling just wide and Willian cutting back when space had opened up for a shot.

And just when the Blues feared being thwarted in the half, Loftus-Cheek teed up Pedro and the Spaniard blasted home.

Chelsea raised the tempo again, substitute Eden Hazard stepping into the fray and Loftus-Cheek continuing to boss the game.

Luiz flicked Hazard's free-kick goalwards, only for Trapp to pull off a smart save.

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