Romelu Lukaku continued his fine start to his second coming at Chelsea as the Blues did enough to edge past Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 on Tuesday night.
Chelsea began the night by accepting awards for their Champions League triumph in May, but they struggled to find rhythm against a stubborn Zenit defence.
Having failed to trouble the visiting goalkeeper in the first half, Chelsea picked up the pace after the break and broke the deadlock through a familiar route.
Cesar Azpilicueta picked out Lukaku with a cross and the Belgian striker made it four goals in his first four Chelsea games this season with a downward header.
Artem Dzyuba nearly equalised, poking a low cross from Sardar Azmoun wide on the stretch, but Chelsea did enough to open their campaign with a win.
Here is what Thomas Tuchel right – and what he could have done better – against the Russian side.
One of Tuchel’s undeniable strengths since taking over from Frank Lampard as Chelsea manager in January has been his clear tactical approach.
Every time you watch the Blues, you know what their manager wants from them; there is rarely any confusion on the pitch because every player knows their role inside out.
However, watching the first half at Stamford Bridge you couldn’t help but wonder if Chelsea could benefit from a change in shape.
As ever, the home side lined up with a three-man defence, with Marcos Alonso and Reece James as wing-backs and Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech as “half-strikers”, as their manager termed them in his pre-match interview.
Chelsea could not break down Zenit, who sat deep in a 5-4-1 formation and conceded no space centrally. The hosts went in at the break without having registered a shot on target.
Chelsea improved after the break, finally firing some shots in at goal, but now matter what they did Ziyech could not affect the game.
The Moroccan hit one weak shot from the edge of the box and failed to make the most of another opening before Tuchel made the call the crowd had been asking for.
Kai Havertz had been warming up patiently on the touchline when he got the nod from his manager in the 63rd minute.
The Blues immediately looked more dangerous with the gangly German attacker providing more of an element of surprise to the home team’s play.