The 3-2 win at Ukraine over Chelsea may have shocked some England fans, but Shakhtar has been impressive in the last few European campaigns. Di Matteo’s decision to bench Terry even though realising the threat of the Brazilians Fernandinho, Luiz Adriano and Willian was indeed a brave move.
Also without Ashley Cole, the loopholes on the left hand side of defence was very obvious. Ryan Bertrand tested his own goalkeeper with a comedic header following a corner. David Luiz’s adventurous style left huge gap at the back. Mikel managed to fill in the gap for numerous time, but not when Fernandinho thoroughly exposed their weaknesses with a daring run and crossed for Willian to finish.
It seemed Chelsea’s best strategy of defence was to attack. David Luiz looked fully inspired by the talents in the field and was more interested to be an attacker in this decisive group match. Fernando Torres looked lively and determined, and it was his hard work that earned a goal resulted from the Pyatov’s poor clearance.
Both teams were frequently throwing punches at each other and Shakhtar emerged as the better team after Willian’s leveller. Nevertheless, Pyatov was again involved in another avoidable goal. Having forced to clear Chelsea’s counter attack as a sweeper, his header could only reach Oscar and the Brazilian fired a fantastic shot near halfway line over the goalkeeper. Shakhtar had themselves to blame with the poor defending but Oscar deserved the credit for the amazing goal. Chelsea found themselves in the driving seat despite conceding majority of the possession to Shakhtar.
The goal, though, seemed did little to deflate the Ukrainian Champion. Shortly into second half, the game was back to where it began. Another quality attack started by Fernandinho, whose pass released Srna and the cutback cross found Willian once again to level the match at 2-2.
Shakhtar was flying with confidence and played the Barcelona style to play the way out of defence. Rat nearly gave them the first lead in the game but the post denied his long-range shot. Pressure was exerted on Bertrand and with Willian moving to the middle more often, Ramires and Mikel struggled to contain the Shakhtar’s mobile midfield.
Having dominated the game but failed to capitalise the chances, tired legs started to hit Shakhtar, which in turn gave Eden Hazard the space to shine. His quick feet gave Kucher and Rakitskiy some moments to suffer. A spell of great football put Chelsea in the favourite position again. Mikel missed marginally with his shot following a corner and Ramires was brought down by Srna in the box, though no penalty was given.
Just when the game was tilted to the home side once again, Shakhtar found the magic to recover and attempted to grab the unlikely winner with rapid counter attack. David Luiz was inevitably the clown when Chelsea was under pressure. Unnecessary fouls and mis-positioning left Chelsea wonder whether they could leave the stadium with even just a vital point.
Bagging four points from Chelsea would leave Shakhtar in a favourable position to qualify for knockout stage. Getting six would make it a certainty, but whether it would be the right move in the dying minute of the match was debatable. Shakhtar remained faithful with their style, but it was Chelsea who ultimately benefited from it. Ramires’ breaking run from a Shakhtar’s corner eventually led to a corner of their own, which gave substitute Victor Moses the opportunity to enjoy the heroic moment.
The dramatic victory rocketed Chelsea to the top of the group on goal difference. With Juventus winning at home with ease on the same night, the group remains tight with only one point separating the three teams. Di Matteo will have little worries over the attacking, but will the defence let the team down? Chelsea fans will be praying for Terry and Ashley Cole’s return in their trip to Turin.
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