Chelsea lost to Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday night, a defeat that could yet see the reigning European champs fail to make the last 16 of Europe’s biggest domestic tournament.
Chelsea were outplayed by the Ukrainian champions, whose victory was clinched by goals from two Brazilians. Alex Teixeira slotted home with just three minutes on the clock, while Fernandinho added to Shakhtar’s lead in the second half. A late goal from Chelsea’s own Brazilian, Oscar, was scant consolation.
Chelsea’s loss to Shakhtar may not be as shocking as it first appears. The Ukrainian outfit are a tough side to beat at home, and English teams have now failed to win in Donetsk in four attempts. Furthermore, Shakhtar came into this match unbeaten in 11 months, having scored in every game during that run.
However, Chelsea will have believed they could come away with points from Donetsk; after winning the 2011-12 Champions League, this defeat was the first in the competition for manager Roberto Di Matteo. As it turned out, the loss would have been far more severe if not for Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.
John Terry returned as captain for Chelsea, just weeks after being found guilty by the English FA of racially abusing an opposition player, Anton Ferdinand.
Yet Terry’s comeback as skipper was overshadowed by the excellence of Shakhtar. After just three minutes, Chelsea were caught out as Luiz Adriano controlled a quickly taken throw-in on his chest, skipped past David Luiz, and shot hard and low at goal. The attempt was blocked by a lunging Terry, but the ball fell to Teixeira, who remained calm to poke a shot through the legs of Ashley Cole and across Cech.
A goalscoring chance for the Ukrainian side was never far away, with attacking midfielder Willian putting in an exemplary display of creativity and dynamism. Yet Cech also performed admirably throughout the first half, and his saves meant Chelsea were still in the game at half-time.
Chelsea carried threats of their own, with their best chances landing at the feet of Torres. On each occasion, however, the Spanish star was denied by determined defending from the Shakhtar defense.
With the second half underway, Chelsea began to push for an equalizer, only for Shakhtar to counter with a decisive strike. When Fernandinho robbed Eden Hazard in the centre of the field, Adriano recovered possession, broke forward, and played the ball to Fernandinho whose deadly, low finish beat Cech and nestled in the far corner of the goal.
Following Shakhtar’s second goal, Chelsea improved, but Shakhtar consistently looked more likely to score. Though Oscar grabbed a late consolation strike, Chelsea’s loss to Shakhtar was sealed.
The result leaves the reigning European champions in second in Group E. Elsewhere in the group, Juventus helped Chelsea by failing to beat Nordsjaelland in Denmark. However, Shakhtar remain in control, having clinched seven points from three games:
[Image credit: UEFA.com]