The player in the blue shirt stopped the ball on the edge of the penalty area and then threw his marker away completely with an agile drag-back and spin.
He then slashed in another defender to make room to fire. Only the finish was missing, a left-footed attack that rolled just wide of the far post.
You had to blink to realize that the glittering Chelsea player was Marcos Alonso and not one of the forwards.
This moment, when Chelsea pushed for a killer second goal against Zenit St Petersburg this week, neatly summed up the Spaniard’s new life at Stamford Bridge.
Marcos Alonso enjoys a new life at Chelsea after an excellent start to the season
The Spaniard was linked with a departure in the summer but is now first-choice on the left
Manager Thomas Tuchel wanted Alonso to stay at Chelsea and does not regret the decision
Alonso was on the brink of leaving Chelsea in the summer. Now, a month into the season, he has regained the left wing position from Ben Chilwell and is performing as usual.
A 30-year-old whose time at Chelsea cared after Thomas Tuchel benched him for much of the second half of last season has suddenly become indispensable.
Alonso has started every game so far this season, scoring a stunning free kick against Crystal Palace on opening day and captaining Aston Villa.
His cross has become an asset to a Chelsea attack with more physicality since the return of Romelu Lukaku and his defensive resilience at Liverpool helped them cope after Reece James was sent off.
Alonso seems far from just a placeholder until Chilwell gets back up to speed, but Tuchel’s first pick in a key position that bears both offensive and defensive responsibility.
How Alonso performed in Chelsea’s opening games of the season with Sofa score
Alonso opened the season with a superb free kick in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Crystal Palace
He was linked with a move to Inter Milan in the summer, a return to Serie A five years after Chelsea paid £24million to sign him from Fiorentina.
There was talk of an exchange deal with Achraf Hakimi, but Tuchel intervened and insisted that Alonso stay. Hakimi would eventually go to Paris Saint-Germain.
Tuchel’s decision came as quite a surprise, despite the German bringing Alonso back from the cold after Frank Lampard banned him at the start of the season.
Lampard had given Alonso a furious dressing for his team-mates after the player was not too kind enough to get hooked on Chelsea 3-0 behind West Brom at halftime and head for the team bus.
When Tuchel replaced the sacked Lampard in January, everyone got a clean slate and Alonso was reintegrated.
Alonso’s form has pushed Ben Chilwell down the pecking order into the left wing position
Chilwell (left, with Jack Grealish) spent Euro 2020 warming up the bench with England
Chelsea match schedule
Premier League unless otherwise stated
Sunday Tottenham (A)
September 22 Aston Villa (H)
Carabao Cup third round
25th of September Manchester City (H)
September 29 Juventus (A)
October 2nd Southampton (H)
October 16 Brentford (A)
Still, it was Chilwell who gave Tuchel a nod in the big European games when Chelsea won the Champions League, with Alonso playing essentially every other game in the league.
This season, however, it has been reversed. Chilwell was unable to hold onto the left-back position for England at Euro 2020, with Gareth Southgate preferring Luke Shaw, and the team’s run to the final marked a late return for the pre-season.
So not only was Alonso retained by Chelsea, but he then seized his chance to impress after taking advantage of a full run-up to the new season.
It’s now up to Chilwell, who has played just seven minutes of the season so far, to seize the next opportunity that comes his way.
Tuchel explained the situation earlier this week: “[Chilwell] came from a Champions League win and 90 minutes and a strong performance [in the final] and had a good end to the season overall.
“Then it was a difficult European Championship for him individually because I think there were opportunities when he thought he could have played, and he didn’t.
Alonso was banned by Frank Lampard after a scuffle during a match away to West Brom
The arrival of Thomas Tuchel meant another chance and Alonso scored against Burnley in January
“It was difficult for him to completely relax and get this personal disappointment, which he would never put down on the team, off his shoulders.
‘And when he got here’ [for pre-season] I felt he was a little mentally tired, a little worried about the situation.
“Marcos was here all pre-season, he did every training session and he seized this opportunity and was so, so amazing with such tremendous quality and attitude.
“So Marcos was crucial for us from day one in training and then he performed in Chilly’s position. And these are our two specialists for the same position, so this is a tough competition for both of them.
“We’ve talked to Chilly about the situation. There are no other worries for Chilly, he has to be patient and keep training.’
Alonso curled home a spectacular free kick to kick off Chelsea’s season against Crystal Palace
He was given the captain’s armband for last weekend’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa
Chilwell will no doubt have more opportunities soon as Chelsea compete on the maximum number of fronts this season.
They face a London derby against Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday and start their attack on the Carabao Cup at home against Aston Villa next week.
With the FA Cup in the new year, the Champions League underway and the FIFA Club World Cup sometime before Christmas, both Chilwell and Alonso will share the burden.
For what it’s worth, it would be worth keeping Alonso in the game with Spurs as he has a good track record against them.
The Spaniard scored twice, including a winner in the 88th minute, in a 2-1 win over Spurs temporary Wembley in August 2017. He also scored what turned out to be the winner in a 2-1 home win in February 2020.
Alonso’s unexpected resurgence of fortunes means it’s going to be more between him and Chilwell for that left-wing role than most had anticipated this season.
Alonso celebrates Chelsea’s winning goal against Tottenham at Wembley in 2017