Alvaro Morata was close to tears as he snapped his recent goal drought to secure a 1-0 win for Chelsea over Hungarian champions Vidi in the Europa League on Thursday.
Spain striker Morata, without a goal since August 18, wasted a terrific chance in the first half at Stamford Bridge but atoned with a sharp finish on 70 minutes to put Chelsea ahead.
Substitute Ross Barkley also headed against the crossbar, while Kepa Arrizabalaga – the world’s most expensive goalkeeper – produced an excellent save to deny Istvan Kovacs a late equaliser.
“If after a goal he wants to cry, I hope to see him cry very often,” Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri said of Morata, who scored for just the second time in 10 outings this season.
“It’s very important for him to score. I think it’s very important for him to play a very good match. He played a very good match.”
Chelsea head Group L with a maximum six points with PAOK – 4-1 winners over BATE Borisov – level on three points alongside the Belarusian champions.
In Baku, Sokratis bundled in a Nacho Monreal header on four minutes, with Arsenal academy graduate Emile Smith Rowe and French youngster Matteo Guendouzi also scoring their first goals for the club.
The Gunners extended their winning run to eight matches and lead Sporting Lisbon on goal difference at the top of Group E, after the Portuguese side snatched a 2-1 win in Ukraine with two late goals against Vorskla Poltava.
Celtic slumped to a 3-1 defeat against Red Bull Salzburg despite taking the lead in Austria, while Steven Gerrard’s Rangers overcame Rapid Vienna 3-1 at Ibrox – with Alfredo Morelos netting twice and James Tavernier scoring from the spot after the hosts fell behind to a Veton Berisha effort.
Seven-time European champions AC Milan recovered from a goal down at home to Olympiakos to claim a 3-1 victory in Group F, as Patrick Cutrone scored twice either side of a Gonzalo Higuain effort.
Last year’s runners-up Marseille threw away a two-goal lead in Cyprus and were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw against Apollon Limassol.
Five-time winners Sevilla suffered a 2-1 defeat at Krasnodar as Tornike Okriashvili hit an 88th-minute winner for the Russians, while Eintracht Frankfurt beat nine-man Lazio 4-1.
Santi Cazorla scored his first goal in over two years as he tucked away a 96th-minute penalty to snatch a 3-3 draw for Villarreal away to Spartak Moscow.