Chelsea winners, losers and ratings as Kovacic and Havertz stunners secure Champions League last-16 spot

Chelsea Salzburg 2022-23 GFX
The Blues were made to work hard for their 2-1 victory but their superior quality was evident in the terrific goals they scored.

Chelsea are through to the knockout stage of the Champions League, and in fine fashion.

The Blues were made to work hard for their decisive 2-1 win over Red Bull Salzburg but, in the end, their quality shone through, with Mateo Kovacic and Kai Havertz both scoring stunners.

After an inauspicious start, Chelsea seized control of the game, taking the lead when Kovacic instinctively swept a loose ball into the top corner from the edge of the box midway through the first half.

The visitors continued to dominate possession but were pegged back early in the second period when Salzburg striker Junior Adamu expertly converted a pinpoint cross.

After Jorginho had seen an effort cleared off the line, Havertz produced a sensational winner, controlling the ball on the edge of the box before curling a sublime strike in off the underside of the crossbar.

Below, GOAL runs through the winners and losers from a crucial win for Chelsea in Austria...

  1. The Winners

    The Winners

    Mateo Kovacic:

    Kovacic's game has lacked goals for as long as he's been at Chelsea, but the Croatian gave another tantalising glimpse of the player he could be with a fantastic all-round display. His goal was instinctive and brilliant, sweeping the ball into the roof of the net first-time from the edge of the box. Always on the front foot, he was absolutely everywhere.

    Kai Havertz:

    Another player who doesn't contribute enough in a goalscoring sense, but the man who has netted a Champions League-winning goal came up trumps once again when Chelsea needed it most. It was a peach of a strike, too, with the curling effort kissing the crossbar on its way in. It was a much improved display in general, with his intelligent runs causing plenty of issues for the home side's defence.

    Trevoh Chalobah:

    Chalobah really is doing his chances of breaking into Gareth Southgate's England squad no harm at all. Another astute display at centre-back alongside Thiago Silva, Chalobah looked as comfortable at this level as his decorated team-mate. Chelsea still haven't lost a game he's started. It would surely be remiss for England to overlook him for much longer.

  2. The Losers

    The Losers

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang:

    This would have been a far more comfortable evening for Chelsea had their No.9 taken his chances. After he'd seen a deflected header brilliantly saved, Aubameyang spurned a glorious opportunity one-v-one when he was played in by Havertz, taking an age to pick his spot and seeing his effort smothered by Salzburg keeper Philipp Kohn.

    Philipp Kohn:

    Speaking of Kohn, the stopper was outstanding and only finds himself among the losers because he was on the losing side. The German made a string of fine saves, including from Aubameyang and Havertz, which ultimately kept his side in the game. Basically, Kohn deserved better from those in front of him.

    Christoph Freund:

    The Red Bull Salzburg sporting director came close to becoming a part of Todd Boehly's new-look boardroom at Stamford Bridge back in September but opted to remain in Austria despite holding talks. This result may come as a bitter pill to swallow as a result, especially given he cited Salzburg's Champions League campaign as one of his reasons for staying put. Salzburg now face an uphill task to qualify as they face Milan in their final group game.

  3. Chelsea ratings: Defence

    Chelsea ratings: Defence

    Kepa Arrizabalaga (6/10):

    Quiet night before being beaten by Adamu. Good save from Sesko but lucky not to be punished after failing to claim a cross.

    Trevoh Chalobah (7/10):

    Continues to boost his England hopes. Solid throughout and passed well.

    Thiago Silva (7/10):

    His uncharacteristically hasty step into midfield left Chelsea exposed for the leveller. Made amends, though, to deny a goal-bound effort.

    Marc Cucurella (6/10):

    Saw plenty of the ball and passed well. Left isolated as Salzburg levelled.

  4. Midfield


    Christian Pulisic (6/10):

    Charged with doing a defensive job. Worked hard and played a part in the build-up to both goals.

    Mateo Kovacic (8/10):

    Doesn't score many, but his instinctive first-time finish was a cracker. Survived a handball shout. Ubiquitous.

    Jorginho (6/10):

    Typically tidy in possession and came so close to a goal.

    Conor Gallagher (7/10):

    Busied himself with great energy and played the link between midfield and attack.

    Raheem Sterling (6/10):

    Just like Pulisic, put in a decent shift. Passed well and progressively but no cutting edge.

  5. Attack


    Kai Havertz (7/10):

    A nuisance in the build-up to the opener and made a number of clever runs. Terrific finish to restore the lead.

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (5/10):

    Should have scored twice in the first half, including a one on one.

  6. Subs & Manager

    Subs & Manager

    Ruben Loftus-Cheek (5/10):

    Busied himself but nothing spectacular.

    Cesar Azpilicueta (6/10):

    Physical presence shored things up on his flank.

    Armando Broja (5/10):

    Late sub charged with holding it up, but didn't have much of an impact.

    Hakim Ziyech (N/A):

    Late introduction.

    Mason Mount (N/A):

    Same as Ziyech.

    Graham Potter (8/10):

    More tinkering but he got it just right yet again as Chelsea eventually prevailed despite coming under some serious pressure. Despite his inexperience at this level, Potter is proving that he can cut it in the Champions League.