Football Features

Werner bags a brace as Chelsea come within minutes of top-spot after dramatic 3-3 draw with Zenit

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 20:02, 8 December 2021

A rousing display from Timo Werner earned Chelsea a hard-fought Champions League draw away to Zenit.

The Blues needed to match Juventus’ result against Malmo to finish top of Group H and they took the lead after just 90 seconds in Saint-Petersburg thanks to Timo Werner tapping home at the back-post after Andreas Christensen headed on a Mason Mount corner.

The goal was huge at the time as it gave them control of the group. It was Werner’s 13th goal in the Champions League and his second consecutive game with a strike after he netted the fourth against Juventus two weeks ago.

Of course Zenit were determined to get something from the game and exit the competition with their heads held high. And they took advantage of the makeshift Chelsea midfield and a defence lacking in its leader Antonio Rudiger.

The Russian side rampaged in behind Chelsea on numerous occasions, testing kepa Arrizabalaga repeatedly and taking the lead after superb goals from Claudinho and Serdar Azmoun.

Timo Werner wasn’t having that, however. And showed signs of his developing partnership with Romelu Lukaku at the head of the Chelsea side as on the hour mark he assisted the Belgian striker to score Chelsea’s equaliser. A selfless bit of play, Werner squared the ball and gave Lukaku a simple task to get Chelsea back within a shout of top spot.

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Then with just five minutes to go Werner hung on the shoulder of a camped in Zenit defence and, after lovely interplay between Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech, received a pass from the American before ducking back inside his marker and guiding a beautiful shot low across the Saint-Petersburg turf and into the far corner of the net.

It was a spectacular finish that gave Chelsea what they craved, a victory. They would now top Group H and avoid ties against ths monstrous Bayern Munich and the always dangerous in Europe Real Madrid.

However Zenit didn’t give up and snatched an equaliser in stoppage time thanks to a stunning strike from substitute Magomed Ozdoev. That goal, and all the other goals on the night, exposed that the power of Chelsea’s defensive system relies heavily on the players that make it up.

Of course, as much as finishing second will frustrate Thomas Tuchel the performance of Timo Werner will have brought him great joy. The German wasn’t exactly having chances constantly generated for him yet when Chelsea needed someone to step up and deliver goals for them it was Werner who did just that.

Not only did Werner’s goals get them to within minutes of topping the group, but they also ensured that the German remains unbeaten in the Champions League when playing for Chelsea. The German was on the bench as Chelsea lost to Juve earlier in the season and Porto last campaign as well. His last Champions League defeat came in October 2019 against Lyon while playing for RB Leipzig.

Small mercies like that are things for Chelsea to build on during a trying time like the one Chelsea are going through right now.


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