On the eve of this fixture, Sarri labeled the playing surface at Dynamo Kiev’s Olympic Stadium a ‘disaster’ and he feared his players may suffer injuries on a pitch Chelsea deemed to be frozen in parts and badly cutting up in other places.
As it transpired, Chelsea’s players emerged mostly physically unscathed – barring a knock for Davide Zappacosta – and this was the most straightforward night yet of Sarri’s tenure.
Sarri has spent most of this season questioning his side’s mentality but after a couple of early loose passes, Chelsea were defensively efficient and clinical up front as Olivier Giroud fired a hat-trick, while Marcos Alonso and Callum Hudson-Odoi added the gloss.
After a winter wobble, it is now five matches without defeat and Sarri’s reign appears to be gathering some momentum.
Chelsea already boasted a three-goal lead after last week’s comfortable victory at Stamford Bridge but any measure of doubt was eradicated inside five minutes when Giroud turned in Willian’s corner. Chelsea’s opening goal all but ended the tie as a contest and Kiev now required five unanswered goals to progress.
Sarri’s team, featuring eight changes from the weekend draw against Wolves, were three up by the interval and on aggregate, 6-0 and first set to Chelsea.
Chelsea second nearly came when Ruben Loftus-Cheek breezed into the penalty area and shot low across the goalkeeper but Denys Boyko made a fine save. The England international was powerful and forward-thinking in the the midfield three and seems more assured after a recent back problem.
By half-time, Kiev needed to score seven to qualify but for a team without a shot on target in the first period, that did not seem especially likely.
The hosts did at least summon some semblance of spirit by creating a couple of chances early in the second period. The ball dropped to Serhiy Sydorchuk in the six yard box but Kepa Arrizabalaga spread himself well and the Kiev captain struck the rebound against the post.
Denys Garmash then had a goal ruled out for offside. Kiev supporters took an interest, flicking their mobile phone torches on across the stadium.
Yet the lights went out on Kiev’s European campaign as Giroud rose unmarked to head in the fourth. Alonso then cracked the crossbar with a free-kick before Hudson-Odoi ran through to complete the rout.