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Friday, February 15, 2019

Malmo 1 Chelsea 2: Barkley and Giroud earn first leg lead

Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud scored as Chelsea earned a 2-1 win away to Malmo in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 meeting.

Chelsea had lost their past four straight away games in all competitions without scoring, a run that had its nadir in Sunday's 6-0 humiliation at the hands of Premier League champions Manchester City.

Against more modest opposition at Swedbank Stadion on Thursday, Chelsea took a 2-0 lead thanks to goals either side of the break by Barkley and Giroud.
But although Maurizio Sarri's men appeared to be cruising to a morale-boosting win, Malmo will travel to London with hope after Anders Christiansen's excellent late reply.

Chelsea took the lead with the game's first shot on target after 30 minutes.
Pedro floated in a cross from the right channel and, after defender Lasse Nielsen slipped, Barkley collected the ball and stabbed it past goalkeeper Johan Dahlin.

Arnor Ingvi Traustason fired wide at the end of a goalmouth scramble as a series of set-pieces caused Chelsea problems before the break, but Malmo's wasted openings were punished in the 58th minute.

Brazil winger Willian raided down the left and fed Giroud, who cleverly beat Dahlin with an improvised close-range finish to score in his fourth consecutive European appearance.

Dahlin made a great save to deny Barkley his second of the game but, after the introduction of Eden Hazard as a substitute, Chelsea were caught on the counter.

Christiansen burst on to a perfectly played throughball by Markus Rosenberg and beat Kepa Arrizabalaga with a placed finish to cut the Swedish side's deficit ahead of next week's Stamford Bridge return.

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