Chelsea recorded a 2-1 away victory against Malmo in the Europa League on Thursday night – and many of the club’s supporters highlighted midfielder Mateo Kovacic for his positive display.
The Blues picked up a win in the first leg of a Round of 32 tie, which means they are in the ascendancy against the Swedish club before the return leg at Stamford Bridge next week.
Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud both tapped in goals from close-range for the Premier League team, who at least restored a small bit of confidence with their first away win of 2019 across all competitions.
Maurizio Sarri made five chances from the team that got annihilated 6-0 by Manchester City and there was a shake-up in midfield.
Kovacic replaced N’Golo Kante in a three-man midfield and he caught the eye against Malmo.
The 24-year-old is on loan with the Blues from Real Madrid and has only shown glimpses of his true quality, which is reflected with the stat that he has complete 90 minutes in just five of his 33 appearances this season.
But the Croatia international looked much more on top of his game on Thursday and was extremely clever in possession.
He even dropped back into the deeper midfield role in the closing stages when Jorginho was taken off and it could be a position fans see him more often in moving forward.
Kovacic is an agile midfielder with quick feet and a turn of pace, but could do with adding to his game in the final third.
Here are some of the Chelsea fans raving about his contribution against Malmo:
World class pass from Kovacic.
— SJDesigns (@SJDznCFC) February 14, 2019
It’s crazy how much better kovacic would be at the regista role than Jorginho! He has EVERYTHING Jorginho has and MORE! He has the two things we are vitally suffering from atm and that is strength and pace. Oh and also he knows how to defend! #cfc #chelsea #MALCHE
— Jay (@BigdJay7) February 14, 2019
and wow – #kovacic has been so so good yesterday! My man of the match yesterday! thats for sure! #cfc
— AustriaBlue 🇦🇹🔵 (@AustriaBlue) February 15, 2019
That right there is exactly why Kovacic should be playing that Regista role ahead of Jorginho in big games. 3 people pressing him hard but he refuse to give the ball away but Sarri only wants to play his friends #CFC.
— Vasa Gold (@N_A_1_M_A_D) February 14, 2019
Kovacic has been great.
— – (@_ShafCFC) February 14, 2019
But Kovacic is absolutely top drawer, he wastes nothing and dictates the game, Jorginho is the week link
— ______________ (@CFC_WARDY) February 14, 2019
that was saucy from kovacic
— Danny¹⁰ (@CFCDannyy) February 14, 2019
— Ariha (@CFCAriha) February 14, 2019