The Champions League was back tonight when NK Maribor travelled all the way from Slovenia to Stamford Bridge, to square up against the English Premier League leaders Chelsea, in what was the 3rd game of the group G for both the teams.
Jose Mourinho made three changes to his side that defeated Crystal Palace on the weekend with Cech, Zouma and Filipe Luis replacing Courtois, Cahill and Azpilicueta respectively.
It was a surprise Champions League debut for Kurt Zouma, while, Nathan Ake and Dominic Solanke made the bench for the blues.
Here’s the initial reaction of the game:
– Chelsea started the game in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, dominating the proceedings straightaway. NK Maribor, as expected, looked to sit deep and catch us on the counter. The first real chance came for the blues in the 13th minute, when after a long spell of possession and some patient build-up play, John Terry found Remy in the opposition box with an inch perfect pass. The French man made no mistake, rounding off couple of the defenders to slot the ball home calmly with his left foot. The celebrations were momentary though, as Remy seemed to have pulled his leg muscles while shooting, and he had to be subbed off for Drogba in the 15th minute.
– The second chance fell to the blues in the 22nd minute when NK Maribor gave away a penalty through handball and who else, but THE KING OF STAMFORD BRIDGE, DIDIER DROGBA scored the goal from the spot. It was an ecstatic feeling as a die hard blues fan, watching Drogba score the first goal in his second stint for Chelsea from the penalty spot. Think of the last time that happened… It all started though, with a brilliant one-two between Willian and Hazard which saw Mertelj concede a penalty with a handball in his own D.
– NK Maribor, meanwhile were looking to hit us on the counter, but it was Chelsea who showed them how to do that in the 32nd minute.
A quick breakaway from Chelsea after a Drogba clearance from NK Maribor corner set Hazard away, who found Fabregas on the edge of the opposition box. Fabregas played it across the area, and it was John Terry of all the people who was there for an easy tap-in. 3-0 to the good guys, game over NK Maribor!
– 3-0 in the first half an hour but Chelsea were far from over, with a thrashing always on the cards. Hazard came close to making it 4-0 in the 39th minute, but his resulting shot fell straight to the keeper. Ivanovic and Drogba also had half chances to further humiliate the Slovenian side in the dying minutes of the first half but to Maribor’s relief, they failed to do so.
– The first half ended with Blues leading the game 3-0, completely dominating the Maribor side in every aspect of the game. Meanwhile, NK Maribor seemed to have no answers to the Blues quality on the pitch and looked to be in for a thrashing. It looked all too easy for the blues out there with no real pressure from the Maribor’s players on either side of the pitch. Fair to say with the quality of the blues, nothing much was expected to change in the second-half as well.
– The second half started with no changes from Jose Mourinho. The proceedings though started in a similar way as they ended in the first half with blues all over the Maribor’s defence. Hazard had a beautiful chance to register his first goal of the night after a brilliant one-two with Drogba saw him clear in front of the goal, but he somehow fluffed it. He did get lucky the second time around after Filipe Luis cut open the Maribor defence from the left hand side and drilled his shot across to find Hazard, who nearly made a mess of it again before the ball hit the Viler’s leg and found the back of the net for the fourth time. 4-0 Chelsea.
– With Manchester United looming on the weekend, Mourinho subbed off Fabregas for the young Nathan Ake in the 60th minute. We also got to see a bit of 17-year-old youngster Dominic Solanke, who was subbed in for Oscar in the 73rd minute.
– Matic conceded a penalty in the 64th minute after a clumsy foul on Ibraimi but Ibraimi’s resulting spot-kick hit the post, effectively summing up the night for Maribor.
– Chelsea completely dominated the Maribor side with a plethora of goalscoring chances, the best of them fell to Willian, who hit the post in the 72nd minute. Meanwhile, Maribor conceded their second penalty in the 75th minute after a little clip on Ivanovic in the box and this time Hazard was there to slot the ball home in the coolest of ways making it 5-0 Chelsea. The Belgian was immense tonight, causing problems to the Maribor defence every time he got on the ball, and the goal pretty much summed up his performance. Probably the Man of the Match for the blues along with Willian.
– Hazard doubled his tally in the 90th minute after a lovely inch perfect ball from Nathan Ake found Hazard, who rounded off two defenders and slotted the ball home with a lovely finish. 6-0 Chelsea.
The game ended with a thumping 6-0 victory for the blues who remain at the top of the group G with seven points from 3 games and sure to qualify for the knock-out rounds. Next stop Manchester United!