Giroud earns 7/10 for coming off the bench to salvage Chelsea draw at Vidi
Chelsea's flawless record in this season's Europa League group stage came to an end in Budapest on Thursday as Vidi held them to a lively 2-2 draw at Groupama Arena, but they remain unbeaten. Olivier Giroud's spectacular free kick rescued a point for the visitors after an own goal from Ethan Ampadu and sensational volley from Loic Nego had erased Willian's dead-ball strike in the first half.
With their passage to the knockout stage as group winners already assured, this was all about development for Chelsea. Ampadu and Callum Hudson-Odoi both got real minutes against motivated opponents, while academy prospects George McEachran and Jamie Cumming also got their first taste of travelling with the first team for a competitive game.
The bumpy, divoted Groupama Arena pitch always carried the risk of injury, and Alvaro Morata's withdrawal with a knee problem shortly before half-time will concern Maurizio Sarri in the midst of the gruelling festive fixture crush -- even if many supporters will not consider the Spaniard much of a loss.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Sarri had no reason not to start Hudson-Odoi and Ampadu or to let them see out the full 90 minutes, and he gave Chelsea's most talented teenagers the time and room to learn on the pitch. He probably could have used his third substitution with rest a priority at this time of year, mind.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Willy Caballero, 6 -- Helpless to prevent Ampadu's header creeping in, he made one good save from Nego in the first half but could do nothing about the Frenchman's sensational volley in the second. Was otherwise OK.
DF Davide Zappacosta, 6 -- Linked up pretty well with Hudson-Odoi whenever he surged forward, but his crossing was rarely dangerous and his defensive positioning remains a problem. He gave Georgi Milanov too much time and space to pick out Nego for Vidi's second.
DF Ethan Ampadu, 6 -- A desperately unlucky own goal, created by his desire to take responsibility for dealing with a dangerous flicked corner, provided an undeserved blemish on a largely assured defensive display.
DF Andreas Christensen, 6 -- There remains the sense that he could do with bulking up a little, particularly if he wants Sarri to trust him against more-physical Premier League opponents, but he used the ball intelligently and his positioning was solid.
DF Emerson Palmieri, 6 -- His overlapping runs down the left flank were always a threat, particularly with Willian and later Hudson-Odoi both inclined to cut inside, and Giroud should have done better with one of his crosses. Probably got drawn a little too centrally for Nego's volley.
MF Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 7 -- Used his strength and technical ability to keep the ball, which was no mean feat on a pitch as uneven as this one, but we saw fewer of the surging dribbles that can add a new dimension to this Chelsea midfield.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 7 -- Controlled the tempo and direction of Chelsea's play easily enough, but those quarterback-style killer passes proved more elusive with Vidi often defending deep. Was fouled for the free kick that resulted in Giroud's equaliser.
MF Ross Barkley, 6 -- Was calm and composed on the ball but often chose the safe passing option on a poor pitch. Consequently he didn't let anyone down, but he didn't really help his front three either.
FW Willian, 7 -- Chelsea's most dangerous attacker until he was replaced by Pedro in the 56th minute. Won a free kick with what looked like a dive but then converted it excellently to give his side the lead.
FW Alvaro Morata, 6 -- Often gives the impression he believes the world is against him, but circumstances legitimately did him no favours here. Had precious little time or opportunity to make an impact before an awkward landing on the stroke of half-time forced him to withdraw with a knee injury.
FW Callum Hudson-Odoi, 7 -- Starting on the right, he showed good instincts to link up with the overlapping Zappacosta. Carried more of a goal threat once he switched to the left, but none of his attempts seriously extended Adam Kovacsik.
FW Olivier Giroud, 7 -- Rarely found himself in scoring positions in open play and on the one occasion he did in the second half, he bundled Emerson's inviting cross well wide. Redeemed himself with a brilliant free kick.
FW Pedro, 6 -- Brought on to keep Willian fresh for Brighton, he darted towards goal whenever the opportunity presented itself and sent his best effort dribbling just wide of the bottom corner.