Mateo Kovačič scored the opening goal Tuesday night in Austria as Chelsea defeated Red Bull Salzburg 2-1 to top their group and book tickets to the Champions League Round of 16. Kova asked for a pass at the top of the box and awkwardly stabbed at the ball with his left foot. It didn’t look like a full wind up, but there was enough power and placement on the ball to freeze the Salzburg keeper. Will Chelsea play their A-squad versus Dinamo Zagreb next week now that they have secured top spot in group? We shall see.
Kova received an 8/10 grade from SportBible as he “was one of Chelsea’s stand out performers in Austria. A fantastic strike into the top corner marked a rare goal for the midfielder. Kovačić was subbed off as Graham Potter looks to be careful with his injury issues, with his performance tonight showcasing why his manager values him so highly.”
Joško Gvardiol scored a rare goal as well Tuesday night in Germany against Real Madrid, who already punched their ticket to the Round of 16 prior to kickoff. Belgian keeper, Thibaut Courtois, parried a loose ball in the box in Gvardiol’s direction with the 20 year-old defender slamming the ball in the back of the net with his head. The goal would open Leipzig’s account on their way to a 3-2 victory that puts them in pole position for a R16 berth. If Red Bull Leipzig win/draw versus Shakhtar Donetsk next week in Ukraine, they will qualify for the Round of 16 next year.
Gvardiol was given a 8/10 from 90min.com as he was “Alive in the box to bag a crucial goal and a mammoth at the back. Huge performance on the big stage.”