Chelsea’s Champions League comeback against AC Milan is led by Reece James

Chelsea’s Champions League comeback against AC Milan is led by Reece James

Chelsea’s 3-0 victory over AC Milan on Wednesday was “very crucial,” according to Graham Potter, as the Blues pulled back into contention for a place in the Champions League last 16.

Wesley Fofana’s first Chelsea goal was followed by second-half goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Reece James to give Potter’s team its first win in three Group E games.

Chelsea’s Champions League campaign began with a humbling defeat at Dinamo Zagreb the day before Thomas Tuchel’s dismissal, while Potter’s first encounter ended in a draw with Salzburg.

However, second-placed Chelsea is now level on four points with third-placed Milan ahead of a critical trip to the San Siro to face the Italian champions again on October 11.

With three games remaining for each team, Salzburg leads the group by one point after defeating Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 on Wednesday.

The players’ attitude and effort were excellent, and their personalities were terrific, according to Potter. “It was a nice night. We needed to play well.

“It’s a huge triumph, but there’s still a long way to go in the competition.”

Progress in the Champions League is critical to Potter’s quest to establish his authority over a group recruited at great expense by Chelsea’s new owners with rapid success in mind.

While Chelsea still have work to do to advance to the knockout stage, Potter will be encouraged by his most dynamic performance in three games since taking over for Tuchel.

“The lads have been extremely open, responsible, and enjoyable to deal with.” They realized they weren’t at the required levels (when he joined). “That’s fantastic from a coaching standpoint,” Potter added.

“We weren’t scary enough,” Milan manager Stefano Pioli remarked. “We have to give credit to our opponents, but it’s also our fault.”

“We anticipated it would be a tough game, but we didn’t play as a team psychologically.”

Potter has kept a quiet profile so far as he adjusts to his first high-pressure position as a manager.

Before taking over at Chelsea, the former Brighton manager had never attended a Champions League game, therefore his first triumph in the competition was a special moment for the humble coach.

Devastating blow

Chelsea gained control as soon as Thiago Silva met Mount’s free-kick with a header that Ciprian Tatarusanu deflected over, exposing Milan’s frailty at set-pieces.

Silva threatened again moments later with another header that bounced wide for the corner that resulted in Chelsea’s 24th-minute goal.

With Milan failing to mark Silva once more, he reached Ben Chilwell’s corner with a powerful header that Tatarusanu parried.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek fumbled the ball towards Fofana, who shot low into the far corner from six yards.

Fofana’s amazing evening ended when he collided with Rafael Leao, forcing the centre-back to hobble out late in the first half.

Despite being outplayed for the majority of the half, Milan might have been level in stoppage time if it hadn’t been for a dreadful piece of finishing.

Leao cut through the Chelsea defense to set up Charles De Ketelaere for a shot that Kepa Arrizabalaga deflected to Rade Krunic, who fired high over the bar from close range.

Chelsea’s tight escape refocused them in the second half, and they delivered the decisive blow in the 56th minute.

James’ cross surprised former Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori, and Aubameyang was there to volley the ball home.

It was Aubameyang’s second goal in two games, following his debut for the club in Saturday’s victory over Crystal Palace.

Milan were in turmoil and it was no surprise when Chelsea scored again six minutes later due to their toothless offense, the anonymity of former Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud, and their overly negligent defense.

Raheem Sterling played a superbly weighted pass into the Milan area to the unmarked James, who smashed a ferocious strike beyond Tatarusanu from a tight angle.

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