IF THERE has been one player who has shone in this topsy turvey season for Chelsea, it’s been their Spanish livewire Pedro.
A bundle of infectious energy and a fine finisher, the forward who found it so hard to claim a regular place in Chelsea’s team under both Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte, seems to have found Maurizio Sarri’s football to his liking.
At times at Stamford Bridge last night it was almost the Pedro versus Dynamo show, as the little striker scored Chelsea’s first goal and could have had at least four more, as he ran Kiev’s defence ragged with his trickery and pace.
Willian grabbed Chelsea’s second goal and teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi a third after a lovely Pedro pass against a defensive Kiev side, for a result that surely gives Sarri’s team one foot in the quarter finals ahead of next week’s second leg.
Sarri said: “The result is good but we should have scored more. We did not concede, which is very important.
“But we have to be careful. We have to play the second leg with a very good level of attention and application. Pedro played very well. He missed two or three goals, but played a very good match.”
Pedro said after Chelsea’s third win on the bounce: “I am happy with the goal, but sad with the misses. We have 90 minutes in Kiev and it will be difficult, the game is not closed. From now on every game is a final.”
Sarri’s side faced a youthful Dynamo team that packed 10 men behind the ball. But it was the ever-reliable Pedro who unlocked them. The Spaniard played lovely one-two with Olivier Giroud, who back flicked the ball into his path, and he dinked it past Dinamo goalkeeper Denys Boyko for his ninth goal of the season.
The former Barcelona striker should have had a second when David Zappacosta’s cross came through to him eight yards out, he shot straight at Boyko. Then he was bundled over in the area, but Slovenian referee Slavko Vincic waved away Chelsea’s penalty claims.
Then when David Luiz’ ball from deep found Pedro racing through the middle, he controlled the ball superbly, but hit his shot too close to Boyko.
Then Willian put Pedro away with another fine through ball, but once again Boyko was equal to his firm drive.
Chelsea though were running out of steam, and Sarri threw on Ruben Loftus-Cheek and N’Golo Kante to pep things up. It worked straight away, as Loftus-Cheek was brought down, and Willian curled a glorious free kick over the wall and past a helpless Boyko.
The crowd had been calling for Hudson-Odoi all night and on he came, and the 18 year old’s moment arrived, when from Pedro’s superb crossfield pass, Loftus-Cheek laid the ball off, and the youngster rifled the ball home.
Sarri though warned about putting to much pressure on Hudson-Odoi, a January target for Bayern Munich.
He said: “I am convinced about him. He does not have to do anything to convince me. He is a very great player. We need to improve him without the pressure of the media, of the fans, of the club. It’s very dangerous, at 18, to have this pressure.”