Chelsea 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb: Denis Zakaria scores on debut as Blues end Champions League group stage with win

Instant impact: Denis Zakaria marked his Chelsea debut in style  (REUTERS)
Instant impact: Denis Zakaria marked his Chelsea debut in style (REUTERS)

Chelsea finished their Champions League group-stage campaign on a high as they beat Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 at Stamford Bridge.

Top spot in Group E and with it a place in the last-16 draw had already been secured for the Blues with a match to spare, but that did not stop Graham Potter naming a strong lineup, with the likes of Mason Mount, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Raheem Sterling all involved.

Despite that, it was Zagreb, needing all three points to keep their hopes of securing a place in the Europa League alive, who took an early lead, as Bruno Petkovic’s header from close range proved too powerful for Edouard Mendy.

The Blues soon clicked into gear though, Aubameyang’s backheel finding Sterling and he took his time in the box before finding the bottom corner to end his eight-match run without a Chelsea goal.

Denis Zakaria, making his long-awaited debut for the club, then put Chelsea in front as the ball fell to him and his strike just about crossed the line, despite the efforts on the line to keep it out.

The hosts had chances to extend their lead after the break, Aubameyang inches away from getting himself on the scoresheet as he cut inside onto his right foot but his curling effort thudded back off the bar, before Mount’s free-kick was tipped over and Conor Gallagher was denied from close range in stoppage-time.

The third goal didn’t come for Chelsea but there was never any real danger of them giving up the lead, as they returned to winning ways ahead of Sunday’s huge clash against Arsenal in west London.

In stoppage-time there was a real concern for both Chelsea and England as Ben Chilwell pulled up holding his hamstring, the sight of him being helped down the tunnel at full-time putting a real sour note on the night.