DORTMUND, Germany — Lots of talent, but not the results to match. It’s becoming a familiar story for Chelsea.
Despite spending record sums on new signings, Chelsea fell short once again in a 1-0 loss at Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday and will need to improve in the second leg to avoid elimination in the Champions League round of 16.
Karim Adeyemi sprinted the length of the field to score the only goal on a lightning counterattack after Chelsea created — and missed — many of the best chances.
After Chelsea’s João Félix missed a headed chance on a corner, the German team launched into the counter as Adeyemi surged down the field, beating Enzo Fernández before rounding goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and scoring into the empty net.
Starting from the edge of his own penalty area, Adeyemi picked up the ball from a clearance and needed fewer than nine seconds to score at the other end. He celebrated with a backflip.
Kalidou Koulibaly was at the heart of the Chelsea defense but nearly rescued a draw for his team at the other end. Dortmund goalkeeper Gregor Kobel couldn’t hold Koulibaly’s low shot in the 78th minute and the ball rolled onto the goal line before Emre Can hooked it away to keep Dortmund ahead.
Fernández — Chelsea’s expensive signing last month — nearly scored a last-gasp equalizer in stoppage time but the World Cup winner from Argentina saw his curling shot saved by Kobel.
“There was a bit of luck in there for us and a good performance from our goalkeeper,” Dortmund coach Edin Terzic told DAZN.
It was Dortmund’s seventh win in a row, while Chelsea has one victory from nine games overall in 2023 as manager Graham Potter tries to integrate new faces.
“It was a very strong performance from us, especially in the second half. Overall, we created a lot of chances, had a lot of efforts on goal,” Potter told broadcaster BT Sport.
“Of course we’re disappointed with the goal we conceded but I thought we were the dominant team in the second half. We need to regroup and attack the game at Stamford Bridge.”
Chelsea was allowed to add only three of its nine January arrivals to its Champions League squad, but Félix, Fernández and Mykhailo Mudryk were all in the starting lineup and all posed a threat.
With Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly watching from the stands, Félix had the two best chances of a first half in which neither team had a shot on target. Thiago Silva put the ball into the net for Chelsea early on but used his hand to do it.
Félix hit one chance over the goal and smashed another shot against the bar. Chelsea’s pace and danger on the counter had been clear since the second minute, when only a perfectly timed tackle from Nico Schlotterbeck stopped Mudryk going through on goal. Chelsea piled on more pressure early in the second half before Adeyemi’s goal on the counter changed the game.
Dortmund — captained by 19-year-old Jude Bellingham — was busy too, with Julian Brandt and then Adeyemi getting into good positions only to hesitate, allowing Chelsea defenders to block the shots.
Sébastien Haller, making his European debut for Dortmund after missing all of the first half of the season while being treated for testicular cancer, struggled to make an impact against the Chelsea defense and hit his best chance against the side netting.