Game in a sentence

The European Champions get battered in Ukraine by a far superior Shakhtar Donetsk who won by one and should have won by a lot more.

Observations

  • They may well have won 27 games in a row heading into this match (read that again), not lost in any competition for almost a year and never lost to an English club at home but now they might start to get some respect in the Europe’s fiercest competition. A 2-1 defeat of the reigning champions is a significant message to be sent across Europe for this wonderfully constructed side and those fortunate to watch it will know their dominant performance was one not highlighted in the scoreline.
  • Chelsea’s nightmare night started early, Shakhtar taking the lead after 177 seconds when Brazilian Luiz Adriano caused David Luiz a problem before a fortunate bounce put Alex Teixeira open on the right and he did the rest. A move started and ended by a Brazilian, a theme that would set in for the rest of the evening.
  • It would get worse for Roberto Di Matteo midway through the first half when Frank Lampard limped off for Eden Hazard. Now, on the face of it, that would seem a good thing for Chelsea but it was clear Di Matteo wanted Ramires in a wide area in this match, yet he was denied a chance to see how that would work for a long time. Hazard’s arrival forced the Brazilian to join John Obi Mikel centrally and up against the home side’s electrifying pace was forced into a defensive role for the majority of the game.
  • The thinking behind Ramires in a wide area was probably to help deal with the impressive Willian on the flank but also to improve their own transitional game. Di Matteo would have surely drawn up scenarios where the ball is picked up deep and having Ramires close to a central midfield duo not only keeps a man regularly on that side (as opposed to the forever moving Hazard) but also keeps his team closer together, rather than becoming two teams – one as a back six and another as a front four. Once Hazard came in, the thinking may have been, lets counter them with our big guns, much like at Tottenham when down 2-1, but quite simply Shakhtar were too smart and technical for that to happen.
  • Mirceu Lucescu’s side deserve all the plaudits this victory will bestow on them. Few teams will work harder and find space better than Chelsea this season. Few teams will continue to show great hunger and desire to attack them when leading 1-0, and then 2-0. In Willian and the impressive Henrikh Mkhitaryan they have creators who are willing to do hard work off the ball but also be a real threat with direct play on it.
  • In Fernandinho, the 27-year-0ld Brazilian midfielder, they had the game’s best player, a midfielder who tackled superbly, intercepted key passes and had the assurance even when the ball to penetrate in deep areas and look for teammates. Seven minutes after the restart, it was exactly that kind of effort that got him a goal, his first in the Champions League since he scored in 2008 against Barcelona. Hazard, who picked up the ball on the halfway line, tried to dribble the ball out and was intercepted by Fernandinho who found Adriano, kept sprinting into space and then received the ball and drove it past Cech. It was harsh on Hazard, who had little outlets because Mikel had started the move and was out of position.
  • The look from the Czech goalkeeper said it all. If it wasn’t for him Chelsea would have lost by a lot more on this night. The English speaking media will concentrate on ‘a poor performance’ by the champions and they definitely were not even close to the standards this club now expects but to focus on the woes of Di Matteo’s side would be unfair on Shakhtar Donetsk. Every single player for the home side did an outstanding job in this game, they attacked with phenomenal pace from deep areas, exposed Chelsea in transitions and look like a side who could now win this group.
  • Seven points from the first three matches does include two home wins – where they do play quite differently – and an away match at Chelsea next will be a far sterner test but the 1-1 draw between FC Nordsjaelland and Juventus could not have been better for them, and indeed Chelsea, as the look primed to now qualify out of Group E.
Three Stars
  1. Fernandinho
  2. Henrikh Mkhitaryan
  3. Alex Teixeira