Chelsea secured their qualification for the Europa League knockout stages, defeating BATE Borisov 1-0 on Thursday at the Borisov Arena.
Olivier Giroud scored the only goal of the game in the 52nd minute, as he headed home Emerson’s cross to confirm the Blues’ progression from Group L.
Here are four things we learned from the match.
1. Chelsea's Europa League Progession Was Inevitable
Chelsea were always the favourites to progress from Group L, and four wins from four shows that. Although there have been three 1-0 results, it wasn't going to be a thrashing every week.
Maurizio Sarri's side took control of the game in the second half, and delivered an efficient display to leave Belarus with all three points. The Blues are through in style with maximum points (so far), and can take their foot off the pedal a bit.
2. BATE Borisov Are a Decent Team
After losing 3-1 at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, it was hard to imagine a good performance from BATE Borisov. However, the Belarusian champions proved otherwise. A strong performance against a strong Chelsea side was promising, and they showed good signs of their football.
However, it wasn't to be for BATE. Being denied by the woodwork on several occasions saw them lose their third Europa League game in a row, an unfortunate fate for a side who have proved many critics wrong.
3. Patience Is the Key With Olivier Giroud
Olivier Giroud scored the winner on Thursday night, yet it was only his first goal of the season. A striker opening his account for the season in November is questionable enough, but when it is in their 12th game, you are right to ask questions.
However, Sarri has kept patience in the Frenchman, and he has been repaid. He has been a key part to the team, and Sarri's faith in Giroud has paid off to secure the Blues' Europa League progression.
4. Maurizio Sarri Is Truly Committed to the Europa League
Although we knew this right from the start of his tenure, Maurizio Sarri has truly shown how much he wants to win the Europa League. He is admittedly using the competition for rotation, but not without still ensuring he fields a strong team.
Sarri said in his post-match conference: “I think the first target in this competition was to qualify and now the second target is to win our group. It’s very important because then we can talk again about this competition in February, when we will have another target.”
Sarri is showing his winning mentality for every competition, which is a pleasant sight for all Chelsea fans. His hope to win the Europa League is great to see, and hopefully his aspirations will become a reality in May 2019.