Chelsea 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb: Zakaria strikes winner on Blues debut

By Sports Desk November 02, 2022

Denis Zakaria scored the winner on his Chelsea debut as the Blues recorded a fourth straight Champions League win with a 2-1 victory over Dinamo Zagreb at Stamford Bridge.

Zakaria has struggled to break into the first team since joining on loan from Juventus in the last transfer window but his 30th-minute strike proved decisive after Raheem Sterling had cancelled out Bruno Petkovic's opener.

The Blues had already secured progression to the knockout stages as Group E winners prior to Wednesday's clash, where goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic impressed to keep Dinamo in the game in the second half.

Dinamo could not muster a comeback, though, and were eliminated from Europe after finishing bottom, while Chelsea responded in encouraging fashion after a 4-1 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Petkovic headed Dinamo into a seventh-minute lead after Chelsea failed to deal with Sadegh Moharrami's right-wing cross but the Blues soon levelled.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang flicked for Sterling to dance onto his left foot and coolly find the bottom-left corner.

Sterling missed a great chance when he powered Kai Havertz's centre over from close range, but Zakaria fired into the bottom-left corner from a similar distance after another cutback pass from the German to put Chelsea ahead.

Edouard Mendy pushed away Josip Sutalo's header after the interval, while Livakovic parried over an Aubameyang curler before Ben Chilwell blasted just off target from a tight angle.

Mason Mount's whipped free-kick was denied by another fine Livakovic stop in the closing stages as Chelsea eased to victory.

What does it mean? Good omens for Potter in Champions League

Potter has taken well to life in European football and became the first Chelsea manager to go unbeaten in his first five Champions League games since Roberto Di Matteo in the 2011-12 season.

Di Matteo guided the Blues to European glory that campaign and Potter will be hoping to replicate the feat after Chelsea extended to 11 home games unbeaten in the competition's group stage, last losing to Valencia in September 2019.

While Chelsea have made an underwhelming start in the Premier League, where they sit sixth, they will at least have some confidence in Europe ahead of Monday's last-16 draw.

Super Sterling

Sterling has faced scrutiny for a diminishing role in the Chelsea side in recent weeks, with some questioning whether the forward should be in England's starting line-up at the World Cup.

Yet, while the 27-year-old missed a gilt-edged first-half chance, only Wayne Rooney (30) has more Champions League goals among English players than Sterling (20) after his equaliser.

Away day misery for Dinamo

While Dinamo may not have expected to become just the second side – after Basel in the 2013-14 season – to beat Chelsea home and away in the Champions League group stage, their performance left much to be desired.

Despite Petkovic's opener, Ante Cacic's visitors offered little to trouble Mendy as Dinamo made it 21 away games in the competition without victory (L18 D3), dating back to a 1-0 win over Ajax in November 1998.

What's next?

Chelsea host Arsenal in the Premier League in Sunday's crunch London derby, while Dinamo are at home to Sibenik on the same day.

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    "The supporters and his team-mates will grow to love that about him."

    While Gordon has bolstered Newcastle's attacking options, Howe is set to lose midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, who is on the verge of following Chris Wood to Nottingham Forest.

    "Jonjo has had injuries this season and certainly I would not want to lose him," Howe said of the former Liverpool midfielder.

    "I have to understand again, similar to Chris Wood, the player's wishes with his contract coming to an end.

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    Cristiano Ronaldo has scored many famous goals.

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    Since that goal against Portsmouth up until the day his second spell at United ended (November 23, 2022), Ronaldo had more shots from direct free-kicks than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.

    Of the 645 shots Ronaldo had, 41 resulted in a goal. That is from 700 club games, across stints at United, Real Madrid and Juventus.

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    Naturally, given their status in the game, Ronaldo and Messi will almost always pull rank when it comes to set-pieces, especially at a free-kick in a dangerous position.

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    As well as his effort against Portsmouth, Ronaldo has many other memorable free-kicks in the bank.

    His stunning, 40-yard strike against Arsenal in the 2009 Champions League semi-final; a mesmerising hit from even further out in a Madrid derby in 2012; and who can forget that spellbinding, hat-trick sealing effort that secured a last-gasp draw for Portugal against Spain in a 3-3 thriller at the 2018 World Cup.

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