Academy graduates send Chelsea through with CL win over Juve

·2 min read

LONDON (AP) — Three of Chelsea's academy graduates scored to send the club through the Champions League knockout stage with a 4-0 win over Juventus on Tuesday.

Trevoh Chalobah, Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi — who all came through the club’s Cobham academy — found the net before the hour mark. Timo Werner completed the victory for the defending champions against a Juventus side that had already secured advancement.

Getting a pipeline of talent from the youth system to the first team has been a long-time challenge at a club that has relied on the wealth of Roman Abramovich to invest heavily in transfers during the 18 years of his ownership.

Around $400 million has been spent alone on signings since last year — including Werner — but five homegrown players still featured on the Stamford Bridge pitch against a Juventus side without anyone who progressed from the club's academy.

That could be indicative of Juve’s problems. Not only did Inter Milan end its nine-year reign as Italian champions last season, but the club had to issue new shares this year to raise 400 million euros ($450 million) and is languishing in seventh place in the Serie A.

At least Juventus can bank on staying in the Champions League, having already secured a place in the round of 16 before heading to Stamford Bridge. But Chelsea is now top of Group H thanks to a superior head-to-head record with Juventus with one game to go.

Chelsea is also top of the Premier League about a third of the way through the season and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was never put under threat by a Juventus attack featuring Weston McKennie.

This was a 13th clean sheet in 17 Champions League matches for Chelsea. It was preserved by Thiago Silva scrambling back for a hooked goal-line clearance after former Chelsea striker Álvaro Morata dinked a shot over Mendy.

By that stage Chelsea was already leading after a corner from James was nudged down by Antonio Rüdiger’s hand accidentally before being swept into the net by Chalobah in the 25th minute.

The second came from James in the 55th minute, volleying into the net after chesting down a cross from Ben Chilwell. The wingback is Chelsea's top scorer with five goals in all competitions — and he's also got five assists.

James was involved again three minutes later, picking out Ruben Loftus-Cheek -- another academy graduate who replaced the injured N’Golo Kante in the first half -- and Hudson-Odoi was released to apply the finishing touch.

And James was involved in the final goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time, passing to Hakim Ziyech who crossed for Werner to sidefoot into the net.


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Rob Harris, The Associated Press

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