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Graham Potter left frustrated in Chelsea's first match after Salzburg draw | Champions League

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After all the upheaval over the past week or so triggered by the sacking of Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea needed something here. Graham Potter needed something here. The Champions League tie in his league was his first experience for the new coach and was a highlight of his sudden promotion. It’s going to be a wild night for him.

In the second half, Raheem Sterling seemed to kickstart Potter’s tenure. Rolling the stud to set the ball and a right-footed shot, this wide attacker caught Red Bull in the corner of his Salzburg net and Chelsea could feel a similar flashpoint in their Champions League campaign. I was. Lost to Dinamo Zagreb in the opening match.

Salzburg had another idea. It was a battle for cohesion and clarity as Potter instructed his players in fresh form, and the sucker punch arrived. It was a case study of one defensive method. Then he got it wrong.

The ball was his to win on the left flank of the Chelsea defense, but he mistimed his challenge to substitute Junior Adam, slipping in but failing to make the contact he needed. Salzburg is in. Adamu crossed low and Noah Okafor got on the move. Shortly before, substitute Dijon Cameri headed Kepa Arrizabalaga. Okafor’s shot was deflected by Cesar Azpilicueta and beat the goalkeeper.

Chelsea tried to react and so did Potter. His desperation increased as he threw in replacements in search of a solution. His system was fluid and at times difficult to categorize. Reece James pushed high on the right and Sterling pushed even higher on the left. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struggles as focus. Between them, the midfielder drifted and rushed.

Two of the replacements had vacancies. Hakim Ziyech had a weak shot at goalkeeper Philipp Kohn while failing to catch a cross. In between, Armando Broja hit a high shot when he could have done better. It was a flurry of boos greeting the full-time whistle, much to Potter’s frustration.

Chelsea remain bottom of the group and are next up in a home-and-away tie with AC Milan. Sunday’s home game against Liverpool was postponed to draw police resources ahead of the Queen’s funeral, so Chelsea won’t play again after the international break until October 1 at Crystal Palace. It takes a lot of time to boil down this result.

The atmosphere of the countdown to kickoff was calm. The music in the stadium is slow and sad, thoughts with Her Majesty. A pair of Chelsea pensioners were the first to emerge from the tunnel to lay wreaths, with a big performance of God Save the Queen. The Chelsea bench shot him in the ugly face.

A banner displaying tributes to the Queen at Stamford Bridge. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Potter’s admission was the definition of understatement – necessarily. Dressed in a black suit and tie, he hid in his technical area and gave brief applause from all four corners of the stadium. Correspondence was reasonable.

Potter was looking for confidence on the ball and the confidence to play in tight conditions, but Kepa delivered a heavy pass to Jorginho on the edge of the area that barely moved the team early on. Benjamin Sesko jumped in to win and Salzburg looked like they were in. However, Sesko was penalized for a soft foul.

Chelsea joined the dots before the interval to create a clear note. Too often the final action went wrong or Salzburg got in the way. Hames had a shot from Strahinja Pavlovich, but his cross was too far in front of Aubameyang. Sterling beat his man on the other side, but his delivery failed to find their target.

Chelsea’s best opening of the first half fell to Mason Mount. He bounced wide off the edge of the area while Kepa had to watch out for throwing curlers out of Sesco.

The home crowd saluted Tuchel after 21 minutes. The German will win his second Champions League title with Chelsea in 2021. Super Tommy Tuchel may no longer exist, but he will always be in their affections. The attempt to sign Potter began with center halves Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly on the bench. Then there was Ben Chilwell. On the pitch, Chelsea have faced tough and physical opponents. Nothing beats Pavlovich at the back and Sesco at the top.

Bernardo missed his kick to put Sterling ahead when James caused a breakthrough and Mount crossed from the right. Goals are not definitive. “That’s not the position we want,” Potter said. “We have to respond.”