- Fikayo Tomori sent off after 18 minutes for tugging down Mason Mount in the box
- Jorginho converts penalty to put Chelsea ahead
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doubles lead as Mount assists
Fikayo Tomori will not want to see his old Chelsea team-mates – or referee Daniel Siebert – again in a hurry after conceding a penalty and being sent-off just 18 minutes into what had been billed as a chance for redemption for him and AC Milan.
Desperate to improve on what had been a terrible night at Stamford Bridge last week, things went from bad to worse in the San Siro and Tomori must now hope that he has not played his way out of England’s World Cup squad.
While there may be some sympathy from his former team-mates over his red card, Chelsea took full advantage of Tomori’s dismissal and this was a big win for head coach Graham Potter, who had been untested in the Champions League before arriving at Stamford Bridge.
The draw with Salzburg in his first game in charge had left Chelsea bottom of Group E, but back-to-back victories over Milan have moved them top of the table. Not bad for a so-called novice at this level and Potter, dressed in his touchline James Bond outfit, has restored the Blues’ feel-good factor in super-quick time.
Jorginho put Chelsea ahead from the penalty conceded by Tomori before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted the second and if there was to be one complaint it would be that the visitors did not add to those goals.
Tomori had probably thought it could not have got much worse than last week’s game at Stamford Bridge in which he was at fault for an Aubameyang goal and was slightly fortunate not to be shown two yellow cards.
He started like a man with a point to prove, going down early under a challenge from Mount and remonstrating towards team-mates who carelessly gave the ball away.
That desperation to try to make up for what happened a week earlier perhaps contributed to Tomori resorting to tugging down Mount after the Chelsea man had been sent through on goal by Reece James.
A penalty looked like the correct decision, but everybody inside the San Siro was stunned when Siebert also produced a red card for denying a goalscoring opportunity.
Tomori and his team-mates desperately remonstrated with Siebert and waited in the hope that VAR may rescue him. But the decision was upheld and after making his way to the touchline, the defender this time pleaded with fourth official Daniel Schlager.
After the game, Stefano Pioli was asked if he had seen the incident again and the Milan manager replied: “No, I just asked the referee if VAR was working properly. I don’t believe it was his best evening, that’s for sure.”
There had been over three minutes of Tomori trying to argue his case to stay on the pitch by the time Jorginho stepped up to take the penalty and it is to the midfielder’s immense credit that he remained cool enough to find the net on his 200th Chelsea appearance.
England assistant-manager Steve Holland had been inside Stamford Bridge to witness Tomori suffer a difficult night on AC Milan’s trip to Chelsea and one has to presume that Gareth Southgate and his staff would have tuned into Tuesday night’s game that could have put a question mark over Tomori’s World Cup place.
It must be said that the performance of Siebert was every bit as bad as that of Tomori as the official lost control of the game, also handing out a yellow card to Olivier Giroud for protesting against the red card. At the end of the first half, five players had been booked.
Giroud should have levelled the scores for 10-man Milan in the 26th minute, sending a header wide of the post after being found unmarked no more than six yards from goal.
And eight minutes later, the game was effectively killed as Aubameyang scored his third goal in three games for Chelsea by finishing off a wonderful move. Mateo Kovacic passed to Mount, who played a lovely ball around the back of the Milan defence and Aubameyang took it off the toe of Raheem Sterling and shot into the net.
Despite the fact it came against one of his former clubs, Aubameyang celebrated enthusiastically with an acrobatic flip and Chelsea’s travelling fans cheered from a top tier inside the San Siro.
Conor Gallagher replaced Mount, who had been one of the players to have been booked, for the start of the second half and Kepa Arrizabalaga had to stretch out a leg to stop Sandro Tonali finding a team-mate inside the Chelsea area.
Gallagher should have scored just a few minutes after being sent on, but shot into the side-netting after being put through on goal by Trevoh Chalobah.
Despite being a man down, Milan created their second big chance of the night on the hour mark by working the ball out to the onrushing Sergino Dest, who had been sent on as a first-half substitute, but the full-back shot wide,
Chelsea fans will hope that the withdrawal of James, who went down and required some treatment, does not prove to be serious given how influential the right wing-back is for their team.
Potter’s team started to toy with their depleted hosts, passing the ball around the pitch to a chorus of ‘oles’ from their delighted supporters. Victories in the San Siro are always special.