The match felt like a sideshow to a gripping off-field drama, with Thomas Tuchel removing Lukaku from the squad after he criticised his manager’s tactics in an unsanctioned interview on Italian TV.
The 28-year-old was sent home from the team hotel the night before the game after having his absence confirmed and didn’t appear among the injured players who sat behind Chelsea’s substitutes ahead of kick-off.
In a broad sense, the match was a success for Chelsea. It showed that Tuchel will not let forces outside his control spin this club into crisis.
He reprimanded a £97.5 million ($136m) signing while avoiding defeat to one of the best teams in the world.
What happens next is up to the protagonists involved. A leaked text message exchange between Lukaku and his former Everton team-mate Tim Howard revealed that there will be talks today between the manager and player to further resolve a tense situation.
This could end up being a footnote in a continued working relationship, or it could further blow up and define this club’s season.
The Blues next face Manchester City and Tottenham in the league and could be sucked into a top-four battle with a host of big teams if things don’t go well.
Right now, it seems like the other members of Chelsea’s first-team squad are trying to ensure that the manager doesn’t fall into the same spiral of doom like Maurizio Sarri, Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho before him.