UEFA Youth League: Chelsea 5-2 Feyenoord

Chelsea’s UEFA Youth League adventure continues following a handsome 5-2 win over Feyenoord to set up a Quarter Final trip to Real Madrid next month.

An action-packed first twenty minutes saw four goals as the Blues flew out of the traps at Aldershot, quickly finding themselves two goals to the good courtesy of Ethan Ampadu and Daishawn Redan, and although Achraf El Bouchataoui quickly halved the deficit, Juan Castillo restored the two-goal advantage with a heavily-deflected cross. Another own goal early in the second half ended the game as a contest, and Harvey St Clair added further gloss to the scoreline late on, enough that Noah Lewis’ late effort was little more than a consolation for the visitors.

Joe Edwards picked his strongest available eleven for the return of Europe’s premier Under-19 competition, and his boys were quick to impress. Castillo had twice left his man for dead down the left by the time Harvey St Clair floated over a cross from the right for Ampadu to gloriously head home, and it was 1-0 after six minutes.

The entire team was hungry for more, but former Ajax youngsters Castillo and Redan were particularly up for a clash against their former rivals, and duly combined for the second goal four minutes later. Castillo’s low cross was steered into the far corner by the sliding in-form Redan, although the visitors did hit back immediately when El Bouchataoui finished in style following some less than impressive defending.

Indeed, Feyenoord had plenty of moments, and Wouter Burger went close with a good shot well saved by Marcin Bułka, but Chelsea were still the dominant party. Callum Hudson-Odoi planted a shot onto the post, via the hand of goalkeeper Justin Bijlow, after Castillo had lost possession, and the Dutchman then himself wasted a fine counter-attack with an indecisive pass when flanked by Hudson-Odoi and Redan.

He soon made up for that with a big hand in making it 3-1, although his heavily deflected cross would eventually be recorded as an own goal by Boyd Reith. Lutsharel Geertruida and Jacob Maddox exchanged further goalscoring opportunities before everyone could take a breather at half time, when Bijlow had to be replaced by Jordy van Leeuwen in the Feyenoord goal after suffering an injury just before the whistle.

The Dutch knew the next goal would be decisive, and pressed hard for it soon after the restart, only to find a resolute Chelsea rearguard in their way. Several brave blocks kept them at bay from a string of set pieces, and they will surely have felt lucky was against them as the hosts went down the other end to make it 4-1.

Controversy initially flared as Josh Grant won possession deep in his own half; the linesman had flagged for a foul only for referee Roi Reinshreiber to wave play on. Chelsea swiftly moved through the gears and the move culminated with Hudson-Odoi crossing for Redan, who headed back towards goal, where Geertruida clumsily bundled the ball over the line for another own goal.

The Blues could have had as many as they wanted at that stage. Van Leeuwen’s terrific flying save frustrated Hudson-Odoi again, whilst Sterling twice went close and St Clair was wildly off target with a pair of piledrivers from the edge of the area. He would have more success from closer in though, making it 5-1 on 77 minutes with an apologetic stumble over the line from a yard out after substitute Luke McCormick had done the hard work.

Feyenoord did have the last word, Lewis volleying home a second consolation via a slight deflection, but Chelsea won this comfortably and rarely needed to go through the gears and really stretch themselves. They’ll have to dig deeper in Madrid in the Quarter Finals though, in what promises to be their toughest fixture in the UEFA Youth League to date.

Chelsea: Bułka, James, Ampadu (McCormick 45), Grant (c), Castillo, Chalobah, Sterling, Maddox (McEachran 80), Redan (Gallagher 73), St Clair, Hudson-Odoi
Subs not Used: Cumming, Colley, C. Dasilva, Guehi

Goals: Ampadu 6, Redan 10, Reith 27 og, Geertruida 55 og, St Clair 77
Booked: Ampadu

Feyenoord: Bijlow (Van Leeuwen 45), Reith, Lewis, Geertruida, Smeulers, El Bouchataoui, Toure (Huijgen 78), Wehrmann (c), Vente, Burger, Zwarts (Van der Kust 63)
Subs not Used: Van Mullem, Van Wetten, Bangura, Butter

Goals: El Bouchataoui 15, Lewis 82
Booked: Reith, Smeulers, Burger