Yes, a win is a win. But Chelsea’s 1-0 victory on Thursday night at the Bridge was a soporific win, an unconvincing win and a disappointing performance against a Hungarian side which had already struggled through eight pre-Europa League qualifiers to get where it is.
That manager Morrie Sarri was forced to bring on Eden Hazard midway through the second half said it all. Hazard was meant to be kept fresh for Southampton at the weekend, but without him Chelsea were never going to score against Vidi FC.
Thanks to his inventiveness, a solitary goal was carved out… but the murmurings and mutterings on the way back to Fulham Broadway were on a common theme – it had been a dull, lifeless evening, where the final product was near non-existent.
Considering this was a chance for second-string players to stake a claim to a regular league starting place, it was woeful.
The Blues dominated possession, had the lion’s share of passes and could have had a penalty. But Vidi had several breakaway chances too, forcing good saves out of Kepa, and they, too, could easily have had a penalty.
With the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Davide Zappacosta, Gary Cahill, Emerson, Cesc Fabregas and Andreas Christensen given a start, this should have been a three or four-goal romp. Instead there was lots of jinking and weaving on display, but no accurate shooting.
As ever, Alvaro Morata, the non-striking striker, was guilty of glaring misses. So much so that he barely celebrated when his flick at the end of a Hazard to Ross Barkley, Barkley to Fabregas, Fabregas to Willian, Willian header to Morata move resulted in a goal in the 68th minute.
The Blues have done well in the past by ‘carrying’ an off-form forward. Remember Fernando Torres? But the Morata situation is getting depressing – for him, and for the fans.
Chelsea had an astonishing 16 corners in the match. In fact, at times it seemed almost like a corner-taking competition. Except that each was wasted.
Other European rivals will not be quaking in their boots.