Romelu Lukaku adds to Chelsea’s injury problems as Malmo are brushed aside
Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner limped out of Chelsea’s facile 4-0 Champions League win over Malmo to deal the Blues a fresh set of injury concerns.
Jorginho converted two penalties, while Andreas Christensen and Kai Havertz laid on classy finishes – but Chelsea’s new injuries still grabbed the greatest attention.
Lukaku hobbled off in clear pain with a suspected ankle problem, while Werner appeared to pick up a hamstring issue as the Blues claimed their second win in Group H.
Thomas Tuchel had admitted his international players were suffering from fatigue and feeling flat ahead of Wednesday’s Stamford Bridge clash.
The Chelsea boss had even toyed with the idea of resting £98million signing Lukaku to help freshen up the 28-year-old after a hectic run for club and country.
Tuchel instead fielded a full-strength Chelsea side in a bid to hit back from the Blues’ 1-0 loss in Juventus, and while the move paid scoreboard dividend the net cost remains to be seen.
The west Londoners’ German boss will have everything crossed that Lukaku and Werner have avoided serious injury, but if the duo’s exit grimaces are any indicator then the Blues could have problems on their hands.
Chelsea host Norwich at Stamford Bridge in Premier League action on Saturday, and might have to take on the Canaries without a combined £154million-worth of attacking talent.
Callum Hudson-Odoi and Havertz impressed off the bench to sink Jon Dahl Tomasson’s swamped Swedes however, and boast all the talent required to repeat that feat at the weekend.
Werner opened Chelsea’s night by tapping wide when it would have been easier to bury Lukaku’s low cross.
The offside flag spared the Germany forward’s blushes, but Chelsea in any case required precious little time to steal the advantage.
Malmo twice failed to clear after a short Chelsea corner and paid the price when Thiago Silva picked out Christensen.
The Denmark defender latched onto his Brazil centre-back team-mate’s cross to slot home in style, with the hosts’ all-court power on full display.
Chelsea had a strong enough case for a penalty when Lasse Nielsen dropped a shoulder into Jorginho’s back in the Malmo area, only for appeals to be studiously ignored.
Nielsen wasted his reprieve in heady fashion, scything through Lukaku shortly afterwards with a spot-kick the only outcome that time around.
Jorginho wrong-footed goalkeeper Johan Dahlin in customary manner to double the Blues’ lead and effectively put the game to bed in the first quarter.
But then Chelsea’s injury troubles started. Lukaku could not continue after being felled for the penalty and had to leave the field very gingerly.
Then Werner pulled up when chasing a ball across the box, and had to follow his forward line partner out of action.
The half-time adjustments did Chelsea no harm whatsoever, with the hosts quickly notching their third of the night after the interval.
Hudson-Odoi raced away from the midfield cover and sent Havertz hurtling into the box.
The Germany forward just beat Ismael Diawara to the through-ball, and lofted over the sub goalkeeper with an impressive finish that nestled in the net via the inside of the far post.
Jorginho’s second penalty followed quickly on, with Eric Larsson barging over Toni Rudiger to hand the Blues another spot-kick, again coolly dispatched by the nerveless Italy midfielder.
So underused was Edouard Mendy that Chelsea’s Senegal stopper had all the time in the world to respond to crowd requests for the customary wave of the untroubled keeper.
On a night where hindsight might have dictated a different Chelsea starting XI, Tuchel will hope the Blues’ injury fears somehow come up unfounded.
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