“Run at him, Tino,” came the cry from Kepa Arrizabalaga, urging the newcomer in Chelsea’s colours to seize the moment and tear past Igor Smolikov. Yet the shout of encouragement from Chelsea’s goalkeeper had little effect. Faustino Anjorin took the simple option again, passing to a teammate instead of showing off his dribbling ability, and another promising attack broke down.
That was the story of the first half for Anjorin, who spent the period playing it too safe, making it easy for the Krasnodar defenders. But perhaps the 19-year-old could be excused a few nerves on his first senior start and, in any case, the jitters had disappeared by the time the winger made way for Olivier Giroud with 10 minutes to go.
The 2,000 supporters allowed into Stamford Bridge recognised a dashing effort, giving Anjorin a rousing ovation as he walked off, saluting a daring second-half display that would have been capped by a match-winning assist had Kai Havertz shown more composure after being played in by the youngster.
It was a tantalising flash of Anjorin’s vast potential: skill and awareness to burst through the middle, vision and composure to slice Krasnodar open with a lovely pass to Havertz. The only thing missing was the finish from Havertz, whose heavy touch saw the chance to win the game go begging.
Chelsea did not do quite enough to snatch a low-key contest. Yet Frank Lampard could still focus on the positives. His team were content with a draw, proud to head into the last 16 after protecting their unbeaten record at the top of Group E, and the manager was full of praise for Anjorin, tipping the academy product to earn more opportunities given that Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi are out for a fortnight with hamstring injuries.
“In training he’s shown a real ability to step straight into the level,” the manager said. “He’s a player I feel the more he trains with us the better he gets. With the injuries we have in the short term, he’ll be spending more time with us. He grew into the game as it went on.”
As for the other teenager in an experimental Chelsea lineup, Lampard summed it up by describing him as “outstanding”. Billy Gilmour hardly looked like a player who was making his first start since sustaining a knee injury in July. The loose balls always seemed to find the 19-year-old midfielder, who caught the eye with his passing range, movement and ability to control the tempo.
Yet Chelsea did lack fluency after making 10 changes to the team that beat Leeds last weekend. Assured of qualification into the Europa League, Krasnodar were awkward opponents at times and took a deserved early lead, Viktor Claesson’s deft touch giving Remy Cabella space to dance clear and fire past Arrizabalaga.
Making his first start since 17 October, Arrizabalaga looked pained to concede from Krasnodar’s first shot on target. But there was no point wallowing. The Spaniard was beaten by a perfectly executed shot and his teammates responded in the right way, almost immediately cancelling out the advantage when Tammy Abraham spun past Kaio, whose clumsy foul on the striker allowed Jorginho to equalise from the spot.
Chelsea settled down, almost taking the lead when Abraham steered wide. Sharper passing forced Krasnodar to retreat at the start of the second half. Havertz came alive on the right, drawing admiring sighs from the crowd with a backheel to Mateo Kovacic. Anjorin threatened with a shot from the left.
The crowd wanted more from Havertz. Yet it was not quite clicking for the £62m German, who needs time to build his fitness after recovering from Covid-19. Havertz scuffed one shot and, although his pressing off the ball was impressive, he misplaced too many passes.
Sloppiness threatened to hurt Chelsea when they found themselves outnumbered at the back as Krasnodar launched an increasingly rare break. This time, though, Arrizabalaga came to their rescue, repelling Wanderson’s effort. Krasnodar earned their point when Yevgeni Gorodov made fine saves from Abraham and Havertz. Timo Werner also threatened after coming off the bench, firing wide, but the contest fizzled out. Chelsea did not have to exert themselves.