Chelsea faced an in form Schalke side without left-back Ashley Cole on Tuesday night. Azpilicueta preferred to Ryan Bertrand at left back, where he had played the final 15 minutes during the win against Cardiff on Saturday afternoon. That games goal scorer Samuel Eto’o dropped to the bench to make room for Fernando Torres, who started his 100th game for Chelsea.
Schalke boasted a team of choc-a-bloc of internationals, including former Chelsea target Julian Draxler and F.A Cup villain Kevin Prince Boateng. Prime goal scorer Klaus-Jan Huntelaar was out injured.
Chelsea went into the game with only 3 points after 2 games before a double-header against Schalke.
Chelsea started with full steam. An early corner, missed by everybody was Branislav Ivanovic fooled his man, only for Torres’ forehead to plunk the ball into the net at the back post.
Whilst Schalke let Chelsea gain control of possession, they consistently threaten down the right flank, sensing that both Azpilicueta and Schurrle were easy to get at. The two were equal to every advance.
Julian Draxler was once again the architect, with Schalke narrowing being caught offside before Boateng forced Petr Cech into an outstanding save. Danger. Half an hour in, the roles had reversed and Schalke were really beginning to take control of the game, as Chelsea sat back and looked for an opening on the counter. Half time came, but not before Cech had pulled off another fine save and a real goalmouth scramble was dissolved.
Chelsea went into the break fortunate to be ahead, with Schalke grabbing the game by the scruff once they got into the game.
The second half started brightly. A Frank Lampard free-kick 35 yards out was flicked on by Torres, only to rattle against the woodwork moments before a devastating counter attack brought Chelsea’s cushion. Eden Hazard won the ball in the middle of a Schalke attack before Oscar outmuscled Matip and squared for Fernando Torres, who rounded the ‘keeper and slotted into an empty net. 2-0.
Hazard left it late to make it three: a carbon copy of the second. A decent counter attack left Schalke outnumbered at the back, before Fernando Torres’ deceiving run left Eden Hazard, with his final touch of the game, with a clean strike on goal. 3-0 – Game over. The Belgian was subsequently subbed for Samuel Eto’o.
Mourinho’s tactics paid dividends in Germany, allowing a back four with the solid Gary Cahill and the mammoth Cesar Azpilicueta to soak up Schalke pressure before hitting them on the counter attack – a real away performance.
Chelsea go top of Group E with 6 points out of a possible 9. We’re back in business and really starting to play with some consistence and flair.
Notable results from the night included Arsenal at home to Dortmund (Happy birthday, Arsene) and our group rivals Steaua holding Basel to a 1-1 draw.
Keep the blue flag flying high.
Peter Adams @easypeejy