Chelsea 3-1 Sporting Lisbon: A walk in the park with some pleasing performances.
Chelsea beat Sporting Lisbon 3-1 last night with goals from Cesc Fabregas, Andre Schurrle and Mikel to progress to the next round as grou...
Chelsea beat Sporting Lisbon 3-1 last night with goals from Cesc Fabregas, Andre Schurrle and Mikel to progress to the next round as group winners. Despite making six changes, it was all too easy for Jose Mourinho's men.
Despite the speculation that youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek would start the game, the boss decided to stick with the first team squad and brought in the likes of Petr Cech, Filipe Luis, Kurt Zouma, Nemanja Matic, Andre Schurrle and Mohamed Salah for a start.
What was interesting was Mourinho's decision to push Cesc Fabregas further forward and play both Matic and Mikel behind him; giving him licence to roam around and pick the ball up in different positions.
Within ten minutes, Chelsea were a goal up after Filipe Luis was brought down in the box and Fabregas slotted home the resulting penalty. Chelsea had started the game well and it was well deserved.
Now yesterday I wrote an article stating that for Andre Schurrle, the game was very important and was a chance for him to get back in favour with the manager. If he wanted to challenge Willian for a regular start, he needed a good game.
To his credit, Schurrle played well and scored another important goal; our second of the night before twenty minutes had passed. Having come inside, the ball was played to him outside the box and his touch, turn and shot from 20 yards found it's way into the bottom left hand corner!
To be fair, both Schurrle and Mohamed Salah were busy all game and it was good to see. Salah still needs the little bit more confidence in his game to get that final decision, final through ball right and I am sure he will be back on song. Whether or not that's in a Chelsea shirt after the January transfer window is yet to be seen.
Another player who impressed me last night was Mikel. We saw a range of passing that we hadn't really seen from him previously and it was really good to see. We are used to him slowing the game down and passing it backwards, sidewards or short but he was moving it forward and quickly. At times he even spread the play from one side to another 40 -50 yard passes!
Let's be honest, the game was a dead rubber and Chelsea looked more than comfortable. Of course the visitors had their moments in the game and in the second half, after some slack defending from Luis, they took a chance to make it 2-1. The ball was crossed from the right and half cleared by Chelsea to the edge of the box and Silva had time and space to compose himself and fire into the bottom corner hardly ten minutes into the second half.
In addition, Gary Cahill was called upon to literally throw himself at the ball to block another goal bound effort to deny Sporting!
Chelsea could and should have created more but only managed one more goal in the second half, making it 3-1 and game over, after a Cesc Fabregas cross was flicked on by Cahill to Mikel at the back post and he touched the ball home a yard or so from goal.
Diego Costa continued to work hard but just couldn't find himself an opening or that final ball he was looking for. When he did get the ball he wanted from Fabregas, his chest control took the ball too far forward and the chance to get in on goal had gone.
Loftus-Cheek replaced Fabregas for the final ten minutes or so and after a loose first touch, looked calm and composed in possession and he would have enjoyed his debut. He is defiantly one for the future and credit to him for not looking out of place.
So Chelsea win the group with 14 points and are the highest scorers in the competition with 17 goals. We wait for the Champions League draw on Monday with PSG being notable runners up and a team we could avoid.
It was a good performance with some pleasing performances.
What did you think?