London (AFP) – Struggling Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku was dropped for Chelsea’s Champions League last 16 first leg clash against Lille at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
Lukaku has endured a difficult start to his second spell with Chelsea after joining for a club record £97 million ($131 million) from Inter Milan last year.
He touched the ball just seven times in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Crystal Palace, the lowest total by a Premier League player since 2003-04.
Lukaku has only scored five Premier League goals in 17 games for Chelsea, netting 10 in all competitions.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel insisted on Monday that Lukaku’s problems were no laughing matter and pledged to give his full support to the former Manchester United and Everton star.
But the 28-year-old was left on the bench for Lille game, with Kai Havertz filling in as the central striker, flanked by Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic.
Chelsea are looking to retain the Champions League crown after winning the tournament last season.
Renato Sanches was fit to start for Lille, who also had highly-rated Canada striker Jonathan David in their starting line-up.
Edouard Mendy; Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger; Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Marcos Alonso; Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic
Coach: Thomas Tuchel (GER)
Leo Jardim; Zeki Celik, Jose Fonte, Sven Botman, Tiago Djalo; Amadou Onana, Xeka, Benjamin Andre; Renato Sanches, Jonathan David, Jonathan Bamba
Coach: Jocelyn Gourvennec (FRA)
Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano (ESP)
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
- Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
- Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
- Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
- The Spaniard raised at Barcelona who made Hong Kong football history
- ‘One in a million’ Klopp makes Liverpool a European giant once more
- Harmony reigns as Ancelotti and Real Madrid proves a winning combination
- Real Madrid remain Europe’s most valuable football club: report
- Tearful Mourinho hails Conference League ‘history’ for Roma
- Mbappe’s rumored benefits allow too much power for one player
- Zaniolo fires Roma to Conference League triumph over Feyenoord
- Kompany ‘parts ways’ with Belgium’s Anderlecht
- FOX & fuboTV’s UEFA Nations League plans raise concerns
- Robertson urges Scotland to put sentiment aside in Ukraine play-off