Chelsea vs Sporting Lisbon (1-0) – Initial Reaction and Analysis
Champions League was back tonight when Chelsea traveled to the capital city of Portugal lining up against Primiera League club Sporting Lisbon in their second group match.
Jose Mourinho made two changes to his team that started against Aston Villa in the weekend with Luis and Schurrle coming in place of Azpilicueta and Willian respectively.
Here’s the initial reaction to the match:
– First of all I love the Champions League nights! The atmosphere, the song, the energy and everything else is just phenomenal. Good thing we are used to it, unlike Liverpool.
Chelsea started well with Diego Costa having a brilliant one on one chance to score in the 2nd minute, but he surprisingly missed, possibly to make us realize he is still only human.
– Chelsea controlled the opening few minutes of the game but Sporting pressed us highly closing out the players before they got into dangerous positions. Fabregas specially was closed out in the middle of the pitch.
The second glorious chance for the visitors came at the 15th-minute mark when Oscar’s pass found Schurrle’s run in the box but Rui Patricio did brilliantly to make second vital save for his club.
– Meanwhile on the other side Sporting had their chance to take the lead through Slimani in the 19th minute, but Courtois was duly up for the job.
Schurrle for the blues had the best chance of the night when a beautiful cut back from Hazard after a quick counter attack found Schurrle unmarked in the box, but his shot missed the target altogether. Needless to say, Chelsea should have been 1-0 up there.
– After string of missed chances Chelsea finally got their deserved lead in the 34th minute through former Benfica man Nemanja Matic with his first Champions League goal in blue color.
It all started with Hazard winning a free kick on the left and resulting Fabregas’s cross was met with unmarked Matic’s header on the edge of the box who made no mistake putting it past the keeper. 1-0 blues.
– The first half ended with blues deservedly 1-0 up, though we should have scored more than once but being a Chelsea fan you learn to take the missed chances with a grain of salt after some time.
Chelsea looked completely in control of this fixture with our front three of Hazard, Oscar and Costa brilliant in creating chances and running behind the defenders but lacking in the end products.
It was Nemanja Matic who was the best player for blues in the first half scoring the only goal and bossing around the midfield impressively. Meanwhile Sporting in no way were out of this contest after just being 1-0 down at half time.
– The second half started with no change from either manager. It was an end to end football in the first few minutes with both teams showing intent to get on the score-sheet.
Luis was fortunate not to get booked after a cynical foul on Nani just outside the box.
Oscar on the other side had easiest of one on one chance to put it past Patricio, but the goalkeeper continued his dream performance with a fantastic save in the box.
– With Nani starting to look dangerous, Mourinho introduced Willian for wasteful Schurrle to trackback Nani’s run on the right-hand side.
It was certainly more end to end stuff in the second half with Sporting showing more intent and physicality, sometimes cynical with their challenges on Costa and Hazard. We needed more steel in the center, and who else but Mikel was introduced in the 71st minute in place of Oscar to provide the necessary strength in the middle of the pitch.
– Hazard was meanwhile mauled on the pitch regularly with cynical challenges and so were other Chelsea players. No doubt he and Mourinho looked furious at touch line!
If it were a card happy referee, we would probably have witnessed a couple of sending-offs in this game.
Rui Patricio made his third one on one save in the 84th minute against Costa after a beautiful pass from Matic found Diego one on one against the goalkeeper but Patricio with yet another world class save denied Costa his first goal of the night.
He also made a brilliant save denying Salah in the ending minutes. Fair to say he was the player of the match!
– Second half was more of a physical battle than a proper football game with Chelsea coming off worse in this brawling. Chelsea did survive a couple of late scares in the ending minutes but were able to hold on the slender lead securing all important three points and going top of their champions league group.