Chelsea beat Malmo 1-0 in Sweden thanks to a Hakim Ziyech strike but an expected glut of goals never materialised against the defensive-minded hosts in Champions League Group H on Tuesday.
Chelsea, who hammered Malmo 4-0 when the sides met in London two weeks ago, remain second in the standings, level on nine points with leaders Juventus, who meet Zenit St. Petersburg later on Tuesday.
Malmo, who are yet to score a goal in this year’s group stage, remain bottom without a point. The defeat was their fourth in four games and means that they can no longer make the knockout round.
The Swedish champions and current league leaders frustrated their visitors in the opening 45 minutes as goalkeeper Johan Dahlin mixed up some superb saves with a few hair-raising spills as his side were forced to defend for long periods, but he managed to keep his clean sheet intact until the break.
Soren Rieks blazed a shot over from a rare Malmo corner six minutes into the second half before Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s mazy dribble and shot was blocked by Dahlin at the other end, but it would not take Chelsea long to make their breakthrough.
The goal finally came in the 56th minute as Callum Hudson-Odoi out-paced Franz Brorsson down the right and played a perfectly-weighted pass across the face of the goal for Ziyech to slam home.
Malmo’s best chance of the second half fell to Erdal Rakip in the 64th minute, but he ignored several team mates in better positions before blazing a shot harmlessly over the crossbar.
That almost proved costly a few minutes later when Thiago Silva ventured forward to meet a Chelsea corner. His effort was cleared off the line, but a single goal proved enough for Thomas Tuchel’s side to claim the three points.