Nemanja Matic scored his second goal of the season to grab our first three points of the 2014/15 Champions League campaign and move two points clear at the top of Group G.
To anybody that watch last night’s game, the score will not match the performance. If it were not for the simply excellent Rui Patricio guarding the Sporting goal (and maybe some poor finishing) the scoreline would have looked for more comfortable.
The starting eleven were the following:
Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Luis
Schurrle, Oscar, Hazard
Mourinho made only two changes from the weekend’s comfortable 3-0 victory over Aston Villa with Willian and Azpilicueta making way for Andre Schurle and Filipe Luis.
Chelsea nearly went ahead inside two minutes when Ivanovic won a free-kick inside our defensive half. The ball was shifted with pace to the lively, industrious Oscar who released Costa in behind a Sporting back four that played a high line throughout the match. The risk didn’t pay off and Costa was one-on-one with Rui Patricio. However, it wasn’t the expected outcome as Patricio stuck out a foot to prevent Costa from grabbing his first goal of the competition.
This would set the tone for the first half with Chelsea going close a number of times. Oscar looked very sharp and our next chance came from a brilliant one-two between the aforementioned Oscar and World Cup Winner Andre Schurrle. The latter rounded the keeper but wasn’t able to finish from a tight angle. Two half chances then fell to Schurrle with neither overly troubling Rui Patricio. Schurrle, however, probably should have finished a short time later when Eden Hazard cut the ball back into his path.
Unfortunately for Chelsea, the German international put a bit too much on the ball and it curled wide of the keeper’s right hand post.
Hazard then tried his luck on the other wing just after the half-hour mark with his excellent dribbling ability. He was fouled and Chelsea had a free-kick in a dangerous position. Cesc Fabregas provided his usual excellent delivery to the far post for Matic to rise and sending a looping header over the Lisbon keeper and into the back of the net.
The second half saw Sporting Lisbon come out at pace. Nani had a couple of chances and rather comically back heeled a rather looking dangerous attack when he mistook the referee for an advancing teammate.
Oscar had an excellent change to double our advantage when the Lisbon defence again failed to step up and he raced away, collecting Filipe Luis’ pass. However, like Costa in the first half, he was thwarted by the excellent Rui Patricio.
That was followed by Lisbon’s best chance of the game which saw the ball fly across our six yard box where it fell to Nani who could only fire into the side netting.
Lisbon were then lucky not to have a man sent off when Maurico fouled Costa. Maurico then had to be stretchered off because of the impact.
As the match wore on Mourinho injected fresh legs in Willian and Mikel to see the result out, the latter having a half chance that he blazed well over the bar. With only one goal in it, Lisbon were always a potential threat but with no clinical edge to them, it always felt as if the Blues would see it out. Salah came on for the excellent Hazard and had himself a chance to put the tie to bed but again Rui Patricio made the save.
As the final whistle blew, Jose Mourinho went over to congratulate their keeper, who for without him, the night would have been far more comfortable. Nonetheless, three points and a two point gap at the top of our group. Our focus can now shift to the weekend where we face Arsenal.
UP THE CHELS!!