A strange match, in that Milan were the better side for the first 20 minutes or so. But then Chelsea pinned them back and stress-tested their defence, which was found seriously wanting. Thiago Silva won a series of headers, then Wesley Fofana bundled his first Chelsea goal into the net, after which the home side were utterly dominant. Second-half goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Reece James boosted a scoreline that ultimately doesn’t flatter Chelsea at all. Milan ended the evening an impotent mess.
Milan started today on top of Group E, Chelsea on the bottom. Now look!
A fine victory for Chelsea, who kickstart their Group E campaign. Milan were pitiful.
90 min: Origi slips the ball wide right for Dest, who returns it to the striker. Origi heads harmlessly over, and smiles wryly. That’s as good as Milan have managed in this second half.
88 min: It’s been a perfect second half for Chelsea, who have been able to conserve plenty of energy after getting the job done just after the hour.
86 min: A few ironic olés from the home support as Milan stroke it around the back, waiting for the clock to run down, wishing their lives away. “We Yanks better hope Pulisic gets transferred to Milan,” writes Richard McGahey. “They could use him and he’s not getting any looks from Potter.”
84 min: AC Milan. Napoli. Compare and contrast.
83 min: … Milan witlessly and impotently play it back to the halfway line. That just about sums up their evening’s efforts.
82 min: James sends a clumsy header, intended for Kepa, flying out for a Milan corner, from which …
80 min: … though a fourth momentarily looks on the cards as the ball’s launched long down the middle, Havertz making chase. Tătăruşanu rushes out of his box to head clear, just in time.
79 min: The pace of the game has completely dropped. Chelsea may have declared.
77 min: Milan stroke it around the back awhile, and are another couple of minutes closer to cutting their losses and getting out of Dodge.
75 min: … and now Chelsea make another double change. Off go Mount and Sterling, on come Havertz and Broja.
73 min: Milan make a triple change. On come Brahim Diaz, Tommaso Pobega and Divock Origi, replacing Bennacer, Leao and Giroud, the latter receiving a warm ovation from his old fans.
71 min: Silva is booked for bringing down Leao, who had just nutmegged him. A free kick just to the left of centre, 30 yards out. Everyone lines up on the edge of the box. Bennacer floats it in. Giroud runs it out for a goal kick.
70 min: James makes good down the right and looks for Gallagher at the near post. Tătăruşanu claims. A fourth Chelsea goal looks much more likely than a Milan consolation.
68 min: Leao wins a footrace down the left with Silva, and whips a low cross into the box for Giroud. Chalobah blocks and clears. Leao has been Milan’s sole plus point tonight.
67 min: Giroud shoves Silva in the back as the pair compete a high ball on the edge of the Milan box. He cuts a frustrated figure.
66 min: Chelsea respond with a double change of their own. Jorginho and Gallagher come on for Kovacic and Aubameyang.
64 min: Milan make their first changes. De Ketelaere and Krunić make way for Rebić and Gabbia.
63 min: Thing is, Milan were the better side up until the opening goal. Ever since, they’ve been a ragged nonsense. Take nothing away from Chelsea, mind, whose confidence subsequently blossomed.
Milan faff around while playing out from the back. Chelsea swarm. The ball’s won and worked to Sterling, just to the right of the D. Sterling slips a clever ball down the channel for James, who blooters an unstoppable rising shot into the top right. Easy as that!
61 min: Mount swings a diagonal from the left touchline towards James on the right. James curls infield for Sterling, who volleys over the bar. No matter, though, because…
59 min: … Chelsea will wonder how they’re not three up. Koulibaly heads the corner clear with ease. Sterling skitters up the right, and one pass infield will send Aubameyang clean through. But he clanks the ball into Kalulu, and Milan are spared the humiliation of conceding a goal from their own corner.
58 min: Milan try to respond quickly, Krunic winning a corner off Koulibaly down the right. The visitors load the box, and …
Mount shovels Chilwell into the Milan box down the left. Mount looks for Aubameyang in the middle, but overcooks his cross woefully. James retrieves the ball on the right and whips back in low. Aubameyang reacts, Tomori doesn’t, and the striker pokes home from six yards!
55 min: James slides a ball down the right for Sterling, who looks first time for Aubameyang in the middle. Tomori reads the danger and intercepts.
53 min: Milan have achieved very little since the restart. But their fans remain in fine voice. Otherwise, Stamford Bridge has fallen a little flat.
51 min: A free kick for Chelsea out on the right. Mount swings it towards a crowded mixer. The delivery isn’t great, and the ball only just reaches the edge of the box, so Chalobah improvises a bicycle kick that whistles harmlessly into the stand. Full marks for ambition.
49 min: … but otherwise, it’s been a fairly uneventful start to the second half.
47 min: Sterling one-twos with Mount down the left and very nearly powers his way into the Milan box. He can’t quite control his chest down and the ball breaks through to Tătăruşanu.
Chelsea get the second half underway. They’ll be kicking towards the Matthew Harding now. Neither coach has made a change at the break.
Half-time advertisement. Sign up now! Sign up now! Sign up now? Sign up now!
Well, that period of added time was eventful. In some parallel universes, it’s 2-1, 2-0 and 1-1. But neither Sterling nor Krunic scored, and so here we are.
45 min +4: Milan should be level! Leao dribbles down the left, between Chalobah and James and into the box. He brushes off Loftus-Cheek and rolls across for De Ketelaere, whose shot is blocked. The ball breaks to Krunic, who simply has to score, but leans back and balloons over the bar from six yards!
45 min +3: Sterling wears the pained look of a man who knows he’s just spurned a great opportunity. Still, Chelsea will be happy enough with their first-half work.
45 min +1: Tomori scuffs a pass in the centre circle, allowing Sterling to tear off towards the Milan box. Sterling enters the box but has his concentration broken by Tonali, who brushes his shoulder. He could go down. He could shoot. He could square for Aubameyang. He does none of that, and the ball squirts through to Tătăruşanu. A huge chance to double Chelsea’s lead.
45 min: There will be four extra minutes.
44 min: Hmm, it turns out Tomori picked up that booking, for complaining about the award of the free kick. Bennacer certainly did enough to earn it. We’ll clear that up if and when either of them sees yellow later.
42 min: Bennacer is the latest player to go into the referee’s notebook, as he cynically tugs back Sterling. A fair chance this game won’t end with 22 men on the pitch, even though it hasn’t been particularly dirty or ill-tempered.
41 min: Sterling and James are bossing Milan down the right wing. They’re getting a lot of joy. Milan are currently thankful that their crosses haven’t matched the quality of the build-up play yet.