Chelsea 3-0 Schalke: Chelsea ease past Schalke after difficult start.
Chelsea beat Schalke 3-0 on Match Day four to take control of their Champions League group after ...
Chelsea beat Schalke 3-0 on Match Day four to take control of their Champions League group after a difficult opening fifteen minutes. If anything, the game demonstrates the fine line between victory and defeat in Europe's elite competition.
Let's be totally honest here, Chelsea could have been at least two goals down after Schalke started the game much better than Jose Mourinho's Chelsea side having made six changes from the team that started against Newcastle last Saturday.
Out went Ashley Cole, David Luiz, Frank Lampard, Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Fernando Torres (Torres injured) and in came Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, Mikel, Willian, Andre Schurrle and Samuel Eto'o. A bold move by the manager but true to his word.
Maybe it was nerves but Schalke started the game on fire. They moved the ball forward quickly, pressed Chelsea high and opened up space numerous times in the early stages. Julian Draxler shot just wide when it looked easier to score, another shot was fired wide of Cech's far post after a flowing move from right to left and finally yet another Schalke attack this time down our left gave them another shot at Cech's goal but this time it was sent well wide of the post.
Chelsea looked like they were all over the place, couldn't get into their stride, struggled to control possession and string some passes together
Slowly but surely, Schalke looked to tire as Chelsea took the sting out of their game by keeping possession of the ball whether it was passing from side to side or backwards, it eventually gave Chelsea the platform we needed.
Chelsea hadn't created anything of real note up to the point of taking the lead. Ivanovic had broken down the right and got to the byline but couldn't find that final ball but nothing of any substance.
As Hildebrand in the Schalke goal was in possession of the ball, he hesitated, put the ball down on the floor and Eto'o began to close him down. For some reason he delayed clearing the ball until Eto'o was onto him like a flash and as Hilderbrand tried to clear the ball down the pitch, it deflected off of Eto'o and rolled into the empty net to make it 1-0 Chelsea! Comical to say the least!
Once the goal went in, Chelsea calmed down and dominated the game. Again we moved the ball around and made Schalke work hard to win it back. Eto'o had a chance on the volley from distance but it was easily saved but again nothing clear cut.
Before the interval Andre Schurrle forced a fine save from Hilderbrand from a free kick but that was about it. 1-0 Chelsea at half time.
The second half started the way it ended the first. Schalke tried to work the ball forward but more often than not Chelsea won the first and second ball and when in possession kept hold of the ball to make life difficult.
On the one occasion in the 52nd minute, Schalke hit Chelsea on the counter attack and opened us up yet again down our left hand side. As they moved forward with the ball towards our box, the ball was played wide right to Draxler and he turned inside Azpilicueta and fired a shot low towards the bottom corner and Petr Cech at full stretch managed to get his hand to the ball and tip it wide of the post to keep it at 1-0!
It was a fantastic save and proved to be vital because less than two minutes later, Chelsea punished Schalke and took a two goal lead!
A loose pass in the middle of the pitch was won by Willian as he skipped away from a challenge. Moving forward on a counter attack and at pace he brought the ball forward to the edge of the box and fizzed a pass into the feet of Eto'o. In turn, his first touch was sublime and put the ball ahead of him, into his stride inside the box and as the keeper came off his line, Eto'o fired a low drive into the bottom of the far corner to make it 2-0!
As I said it was game over and with over half an hour to go, we looked more than comfortable. Schalke tried to create throughout the game but our back four were immense after an uneasy start. Ivanovic and Azpilicueta playing at left back patrolled the flanks and kept the opposition quiet. John Terry won most things in the air and gave another assured performance at the back but for me the star of the show was Gary Cahill.
Often the one to make way, Cahill gave another solid performance winning headers, tackles and providing a real solid platform next to John Terry we could build from.
As usual with Mourinho, he made use of all three substitutions and withdrew Eto'o, Schurrle and Oscar late on for Demba Ba, De Bruyne and Frank Lampard and it was two of those that combined for our third goal.
A Cahill free kick played long found Demba Ba who, under pressure, chested the ball to Willian who flicked the ball inside to Lampard. Spotting Ba was making a run unmarked towards goal, Lampard flicked the ball over the top first time to Ba and he had time and space to set himself and volley the ball into the bottom corner with Hildebrand beaten for a third time on the night and made it 3-0. Fantastic for Ba and a great finish!
Chelsea played the game out and took a much needed three points and then found out that the other game in the group had finished 1-1 so we sit top of the group and three points clear of Schalke and four clear of Basel with Basel up next away from home.
Chelsea need just a single point from two games to qualify for the next round. Two wins now against Basel and then at home on match day six against Steaua would be nice!
To sum up, the game demonstrates the thin line between victory and defeat in the Champions League. Schalke never punished Chelsea for their bad start with their early chances and went a goal behind from a mistake by their goalkeeper!
Cech makes a fantastic save at one end and the ball moves down the opposite end of the pitch and Eto'o fires home to make it 2-0 - it really comes down to those fine margins!
Three goals, three points and much needed after the weekend. Let's take this into Saturday now against West Brom!
Carefree & KTBFFH!