AC Milan vs Chelsea. UEFA Champions League Group E.
Match report as Jorginho's penalty and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s fine goal took Chelsea to victory over AC Milan in Champions League Group E after Fikayo Tomori was sent off; Reece James' injury is the only setback for Graham Potter at the San Siro
Friday 14 October 2022 13:27, UK
Reece James posted on social media to say "fingers crossed it's not a bad one" after he went off injured in Chelsea's 2-0 win over AC Milan in the Champions League.
Chelsea secured an important victory thanks to goals from Jorginho and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after Fikayo Tomori's red card.
The former Blues defender was adjudged to have pulled back Mason Mount inside the penalty box midway through the first half with the referee pointing to the spot and sending off the England player. Milan were furious and Tomori took an age to leave the field.
But Graham Potter's side deserve huge credit for their professional job on the Italian side. Jorginho duly converted from the spot and when Aubameyang finished off a fine move, with Mount again to the fore, Chelsea were well on their way to a handsome win.
The club's first Champions League win away to Italian opposition in 19 years makes it back-to-back wins against Milan and takes them top of Group E. Victory against Red Bull Salzburg next time out would be enough to reach the knockout stages. The only setback? A second-half knee injury to James which has left concerns ahead of next month's World Cup.
"Fingers crossed it's not a bad one," he tweeted after the match. "Love for all the messages, I appreciate you all."
James will face scans to assess the damage to his knee, which England manager Gareth Southgate will be nervously waiting for.
"We're hoping Reece will be OK," said Potter. "It will be 24, 48 hours to find out, so it's too early to give you anything more than that."
Milan had started the game brightly and might even have equalised when down to 10 men had Olivier Giroud - another former Chelsea player - headed the other side of the post from close range. But the game hinged on the phase of the play that saw Tomori depart.
The 24-year-old centre-back has his admirers with many arguing that he should be in Gareth Southgate's starting line-up for the World Cup. But while there was debate about the decision to send him off, the build-up to it did not show him at his best.
Mount had already got the wrong side of him and Tomori compounded the error by attempting to tug him back. The red card would have attracted rather less controversy had the Chelsea midfielder tumbled to the ground rather than got his shot away.
If Mount deserved credit for that, how about his role in the second? It was his pass that split the Milan defence and had both Aubameyang and Raheem Sterling queuing up to apply the finish. Potter removed him at the interval but by that stage his work had been done.
The Chelsea boss might regret not removing James too. An awkward landing led to him having to be substituted on the hour mark. It was the one blot on a successful night.
"To come here and win is certainly not easy, that is for sure," Potter told BT Sport. "Credit to the players. They were really good, I thought. Obviously, we get a bit of luck with the opponent going down to 10 men but I thought overall the performance was good."
Potter also explained the decision to withdraw Mount at the interval - the England international having been the outstanding player on the pitch in the first half.
"He was on a yellow card and has played a lot of games so we just thought it would be sensible at half-time to give him a breather. But I thought he was fantastic, got into good spaces and attacked the goal well, won the penalty for us and was a constant threat."
England's embarrassment of riches at right-back is suddenly looking a little awkward. Firstly, Kyle Walker picks up an abdominal problem, then Trent Alexander-Arnold is forced off against Arsenal. Now James goes off injured against AC Milan in Italy.
In contrast to Alexander-Arnold, who was enduring a torrid time of it for Liverpool on Sunday, James was in imperious form for Chelsea in the San Siro. It was his pass in behind Tomori that led to the moment that took the game away from Milan.
It was an awkward landing that saw him substituted on the hour mark and the hope will be that it is not quite as bad as it looked. But what should be England's strongest area of the pitch has suddenly become even more complicated for Southgate.
A squad of 26 players might allow room for several who are not at optimum fitness but in the same position? The England boss is expected to name his provisional squad next week and could now be doing so with uncertainty over the fitness of his full-backs.
Chelsea face Aston Villa away on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 1pm; kick-off 2pm.
Three days later, Graham Potter's side go to west London rivals Brentford on October 19.
Then on Saturday October 22, Chelsea host Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, live on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off 5.30pm.