The west Londoners gave an excellent display in Austria on Tuesday (Pictures: Getty)
Chelsea boss Graham Potter has revealed that Mateo Kovacic picked up a little calf niggle in Tuesday’s Champions League win over RB Salzburg, while he was happy with how Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic performed as wingbacks.
The west Londoners booked their place in the knockout stages of the tournament with a 2-1 victory in Austria, with Kovacic putting the visitors ahead with a brilliant finish in a first half Chelsea dominated.
Salzburg equalised shortly after the restart but Chelsea secured all three points – and passage to the last 16 – courtesy of a brilliant long-range strike from Kai Havertz which kissed the angle of the crossbar as it went in.
Kovacic, who has been nursing several injury issues throughout the season so far, was subbed off in the 68th minute and looked in some discomfort, though Potter did not seem to think the problem was anything serious.
Asked if Kovacic is okay after leaving the pitch a little gingerly, Potter told BT Sport: ‘Yeah, he’s just feeling his calf a little bit.
‘It was a heavy pitch, there’s a bit of tightness – hopefully it’s not too bad. It was the same for Mason [Mount], the same for Ruben [Loftus-Cheek], it’s just how it is at this point of the season.’
Kovacic opened the scoring in the 23rd minute (Picture: Getty)
Potter has faced some criticism for playing Sterling as a wingback since taking over but continued his experiment against Salzburg, also fielding Pulisic in the right wingback role – though they did occasionally switch sides.
Chelsea routinely overloaded the home side on the flanks, particularly in the first half, and Potter was generally pleased with what he saw from the two wingers-turned-wingbacks.
Asked how effective he felt Pulisic and Sterling were in their rather unfamiliar roles, Potter replied: ‘Yeah I thought it was quite good.
‘We got Raheem in some good areas and Christian as well, and the fact they [Salzburg] had to defend in a back four quite wide in big spaces allowed Conor [Gallagher] and Kai to get in.
‘First half I thought we probably could have had another couple of goals, but not easy because of how they defend – they’re so good. But overall really happy with the performance.’
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The west Londoners gave an excellent display in Austria on Tuesday.