Olivier Giroud's first goal under Maurizio Sarri sealed Chelsea's progression to the Europa League knockout rounds with a 1-0 win at BATE on Wednesday.
France striker Giroud headed in Emerson Palmieri's cross in the 52nd minute to decide a tentative contest and break his club drought dating back to May.
BATE, who hit the woodwork three times, would have been deserving of a point, but will now seek to revive their hopes in their next meeting with Vidi, who edged PAOK 1-0.
That result means the Blues, having racked up a fifth successive competitive victory, must wait until the Greek side's visit later this month to confirm top spot in Group L.
Two goals down inside eight minutes at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago, BATE were unfortunate not to be ahead early on home soil as Dmitri Baga crashed a long-range shot against the post.
Chelsea soon settled into a dominant share of possession without ever looking like making the breakthrough before half-time.
Giroud had fleetingly threatened with one header before the break and it was in similar circumstances that he opened the scoring, convincingly meeting Emerson's cross at the near post.
Only another moment of misfortune prevented BATE from responding quickly, with Nikolai Signevich's close-range effort coming back off the underside of the crossbar, before an unmarked Aleksey Rios skied an even more promising opening.
Eden Hazard was withdrawn just after the hour and with him went the last of Chelsea's minimal attacking verve as they settled for an uninspiring, albeit important, 1-0 victory after the upright denied substitute Evgeni Berezkin.
3 - This is the first time Chelsea have started three English players (Cahill, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek) in a European match since April 2014 vs Atletico Madrid in the Champions League (Cahill, Terry, Cole). Homegrown. #BATEvCFC— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 8, 2018
What does it mean? Scoring confidence for Chelsea strikers
Blues boss Sarri suddenly has competition for his centre-forward spot with Giroud following the lead set by Alvaro Morata against Crystal Palace and finally finding form in front of goal.
Emerson provides amid short supply of opportunities
In a match of few clear-cut chances, Emerson's wicked delivery from the left for Giroud's winner stood out as a moment of overdue quality.
Loftus-Cheek a let down
It may be a case of two steps forward and one back for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who struggled to make any kind of impression on the match despite his team's wealth of possession, marking a stark contrast to his hat-trick heroism in the reverse fixture.
Key Opta Facts
- BATE have lost on each of the three occasions they have hosted an English side in Europe.
- Chelsea have won four consecutive games in European competition for the first time since April 2012, when they went on to win the Champions League.
- Maurizio Sarri has won all 10 of his Europa League group-stage games as a manager, with his sides scoring 28 goals while conceding just four in return.
Three Englishmen started for Chelsea against BATE (Ross Barkley, Gary Cahill, Ruben Loftus-Cheek), the most for the Blues in European competition since April 2014 versus Atletico Madrid (Cahill, Ashley Cole, John Terry).
- Olivier Giroud scored his first goal for Chelsea since netting against Liverpool in May – he had gone 14 games, 793 minutes and 24 shots without scoring.
Chelsea host an improving Everton in the Premier League on Sunday, while BATE have a break before next weekend's clash with FK Gorodeya in the Belarusian Cup.
20 de enero 2019
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