Friday. 02.06.2023
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Dream start for Vlahovic in Villarreal-Juve; Chelsea beat Lille

"It was huge to score on my debut; it was very emotional," Vlahovic said
22 February 2022, Spain, Villarreal: Villarreal's Daniel Parejo (R) scores his side's first goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 1st leg soccer match between Villarreal CF and Juventus FC at Estadio de la Ceramica. Photo: Jonathan Moscrop/CSM via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa.
Villarreal's Daniel Parejo (R) scores his side's goal against Juventus FC at Estadio de la Ceramica. Photo: Jonathan Moscrop/dpa.

Title holders Chelsea cruised to a 2-0 victory over Lille in a Champions League last 16 first leg game on Tuesday while Dusan Vlahovic had a dream debut into the elite event in Juventus' 1-1 draw at Villarreal.

Germany's Kai Havertz headed home eight minutes into the game which saw Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku benched, and American Christian Pulisic got the second to leave the Blues in control of the tie.

In Villarreal, Serbia international Vlahovic scored 31 seconds into his debut, according to UEFA, after an €80 million ($91 million) January move to Juve from Fiorentina. But Dani Parejo levelled in the 66th for the Europa League champions from Spain.

The return legs in Lille and Turin are on March 16.

Havertz, who scored the winner in last year's Champions League final against Manchester City and in the Club World Cup final against Palmeiras 10 days ago, was a threat from the outset at Stamford Bridge.

He missed two good opportunities but then came third-time lucky in the eighth minute when he headed home Hakim Ziyech's corner kick.

Havertz almost got a second in the 59th but Pulisic then did better four minutes later when he chipped over Lille goalkeeper Leo Jardim off N'Golo Kante.

22 February 2022, Spain, Villarreal: Juventus' Alvaro Morata (R) and Villarreal's Giovani Lo Celso battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 1st leg soccer match between Villarreal CF and Juventus FC at Estadio de la Ceramica. Photo: Jonathan Moscrop/CSM via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa.
Juventus' Alvaro Morata (R) and Villarreal's Giovani Lo Celso battle for the ball. Photo: Jonathan Moscrop/dpa.

Lukaku, who had a modest showing in the weekend league win at Crystal Palace, did not play, with manager Thomas Tuchel stating fatigue.

"We have a lot of good strikers so it’s good to have a change and not make it easy for our opponent," Havertz insisted.

"We didn’t play our best and it was hard. We could not get our usual aggressiveness but we won 2-0. We have a lot of chances to win another trophy."

Juventus-Villarreal

Juve meanwhile had a dream start into their first-ever meeting with Villarreal when Vlahovic controlled a long ball from defender Danilo and between two defenders found the bottom left corner a mere 31 seconds into the game.

"It was huge to score on my debut; it was very emotional," Vlahovic said. "However, I cannot be 100% satisfied because we have not won the game. We have to keep working hard."

StatsPerform said Vlahovic became only the third player to score inside the opening minute of his first Champions League start, joining Andreas Möller of Borussia Dortmund 1995 against Juventus and Ishak Belfodil of Hoffenheim against Manchester City in 2018.

Villarreal's Giovani lo Celso hit the left outside post in the 13th but the hosts got the equalizer in the 66th when the unmarked Parejo drove on a chipped ball from Etienne Capoue.

Dream start for Vlahovic in Villarreal-Juve; Chelsea beat Lille
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