UEFA Champions League night it is as Chelsea travelled to Slovenia for their Group G encounter with NK Maribor with the fact that three points will be enough to qualify from group stage if Sporting fail to beat Schalke in the other fixture.
After the famous 6-0 thrashing of the hosts today, Blues are clearly the strong favourites to win the match. But the match is played on the field, not on papers as the hosts are expected to mount some challenge as the defeat could end their fairy-tale run in the competition. The clash being the fourth fixture in space of 11 days and a due visit of Anfield to face Liverpool in the Premier League, Mourinho made 4 changes to the side that won 2-1 against QPR back at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea started the match confidentially as the hosts were on the back foot. The blues enjoyed more possession with few half chances their way and were forced to deal with some spirited counter attacks by the hosts. The back four were solid with Fabregas and Eden Hazard trying to cause damage. The referee blew his whistle to signal the end of the first half which was very slow as none of the sides able to open the score.
Mourinho named two substitutes as Oscar came on for Willian and Diego Costa on for Andre Schurrle in search of a winner just at the start of the second half. Nothing went according to the script as in the 50th minute; Ibraimi scored a spectacular goal to give the hosts a lead and hope to survive more in the competition. He wrapped his left foot around the ball and curled it into the far side unstoppably to make the Blues helpless. Being the mastermind Mourinho named his last substitution of the game as Ramires came on for Felipe Luis. This change meant that the visitors were playing risky with three defenders only. In 73rd minute, Nemanja Matic taped in at the back post after John terry was able to head the ball from the corner to make the score level.
The opportunities were felling the Chelsea way as Diego Costa scored a goal only to be disallowed as linesman raised his offside flag. There was one more golden opportunity as Chelsea claimed a penalty late on as Hazard switched the ball from left to right inside the box only to be tripped. On the very rare occasion, the Belgian missed from the spot with a very weak effort and spurned the chance to grab the winner.
It was a night to forget for Chelsea and Eden Hazard as the visitors were held by a rejuvenated Maribor side only which they thrashed 6-0 just two weeks ago. On the other side Sporting recorded a convincing 4-2 home win over Schalke which in turn means that all four teams in the group have hope of qualifying from the group stage and make their way in the Last 16.