By Sedara Oluwadara
Chelsea took a big step towards the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday with a 2-0 win at AC Milan which took them top of Group E and left the Italians wondering what might have been.
Graham Potter’s side took control at a packed San Siro against a Milan team who had to play most of the match with 10 men after Fikayo Tomori was controversially handed an early straight red card.
The decision to send off Blues man Tomori for fouling Mason Mount in the area in the 18th minute turned the match on its head as Milan had matched Chelsea in the opening stages.
Milan coach Stefano Pioli kept a calm demeanour after a painful defeat but later told reporters:
“I definitely don’t think the referee has had one of his better evenings.”Italy midfielder Jorginho slotted home the resulting penalty, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s cool finish 11 minutes before the break ended Milan’s resistance and put Chelsea one point ahead of Salzburg at the head of the group.“
It changes the game in terms of what Milan want to do, but for us we still needed to make that count. It’s never straight-forward to play against 10-men, especially here,” Potter said.
“It was a big moment, we still felt that we could do enough with 11 v 11 but the referee made a decision and we have to get on with it.
”It’s been a quick turnaround for Chelsea, who were bottom of the group going into the first match with Milan at Stamford Bridge last week and now lead the way after their fourth win on the bounce in all competitions.
Two straight defeats to Chelsea leave Milan third but they still have a fighting chance of making the knockout stages for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
Pioli’s side are ony two points away from the qualification places and a trip to Dinamo Zagreb and the visit of Salzburg will decide their fate in the competition.
“I don’t think there’s any question that I will need to motivate my players,” said Pioli afterwards.
“We’ll have to prepare as best as possible for the match in Zagreb and I’ll do my best to do