Chelsea claimed all three points in an enthralling game in Austria which saw the visitors secure qualification from Group E in the Champions League.
The Lowdown: Knockout bound
The 2021 Champions League winners secured passage through to the knockout stages for the 18th time in 19 campaigns in the top European competition, ending RB Salzburg’s 40-game unbeaten home run in the process.
Kai Havertz won the game for the Blues with a beauty from outside the box just after the hour mark in a hard-fought game, Mateo Kovacic put the West Londoners in front after 23 minutes with an equally eye-catching finish, before Chukwubuike Adamu levelled just after half time for the hosts.
The Latest: Havertz heaven
It’s becoming a knack now for the 23-year-old to produce in the big moments in Europe, the German scored the winner in the 2021 final and now has clinched the goal that sends Graham Potter’s side through, and as group winners after AC Milan smashed Dinamo Zagreb 4-0.
Speaking during in his post-match press conference, the Blues boss laden his performance and match-winning strike with praise, saying it’s a goal he could only ‘imagine’ scoring.
“His quality is there, he’s an incredibly talented player and he’s been nearly there and obviously scoring a goal like that is bound to help.
“It’s an indication of the quality he has,” he said.
The Verdict: Deserved acclaim
Well worth the acclaim received from his manager, the £90m signing from Bayer Leverkusen, added his third goal of the season last night from one of the three shots on target he racked up, in a 90-minute performance that earned him a 7.5 rating from Sofascore.
The 6 foot 3 ace completed three out of four attempted dribbles and provided one key pass and one big chance created, playing his centre-forward role perfectly as he peeled off Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to join in the build-up play, as his creative ability shone for a Blues side loaded with attacking threats.
He played an important role for Potter who saw his side dominate possession with 70% and register 11 shots on target, despite only achieving a 62% pass accuracy, due to the high risk of his attempts, also notching up 68 touches, the second-highest outside the defence for the Blues.
Never to shy away from the dogged work, the £150k-per-week dynamo won four ground and aerial duels as he helped the group leaders win the physical battle against a dangerous Salzburg side, chipping in with a clearance and an interception as he worked all over the pitch to see Chelsea over the finishing line in Group E with a game to go.