It took a while for them to get going, but Chelsea eventually put paid to Malmo and secured themselves a place in the Europa League last 16 with an ample 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge.
The opening exchanges saw the Blues dawdle and dally as Malmo knackered themselves out attempting a high press.
However, after a fairly ponderous first half, Maurizio Sarri’s side began to move the ball with much more purpose in the second, with the chances starting to arrive in dribs and drabs.
The scoring was opened in the 55th minute when Olivier Giroud followed up his winning goal in the first leg with an icebreaker in the second.
The move began with N’Golo Kante seizing the ball in the Malmo half and playing in Willian, who slung a fine pass across the six-yard line for Giroud to tap home from close range…
The tempo continued to increase and Chelsea took hold of the tie as Malmo began to visibly tire.
The home side’s job was made that much easier in the 72nd minute when Rasmus Bengtsson was dismissed.
The veteran centre-half was shown a second yellow card for lunging in on Emerson Palmeiri as the Blues left-back made his way across the edge of the Swedes’ area.
Ross Barkley then stepped up and tucked away the ensuing freekick with minimum fuss, again adding to his goal from the first leg.
Barkley was immediately taken off for Jorginho, who was booed onto the pitch by a vocal section of the Chelsea fans – the Brazilian quickly becoming emblematic of the tactical teething problems the team are having under Sarri’s tutelage.
All in all, Malmo proved to be next to no threat, with the Swedish side ending the evening having managed precisely zero shots on target.
Callum Hudson-Odoi then fleshed out the aggregate win in the 83rd minute by beating his man (heaven forbid) and thrashing a low shot past Johan Dahlin from a tight-ish angle…
So that’s both London sides now into the next round, with Arsenal giving BATE an overdue pummelling at the Emirates in the earlier kick-off.
While hardly fluid, Chelsea at least looked semi-capable, which represents a distinct improvement on recent performances.
That said, a similar level of performance is unlikely to yield the same kind of result against Man City in the Carabao Cup final this Sunday.