Chelsea stunned by Shakhtar's boys from Brazil


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Chelsea are facing a battle to avoid becoming the first holders of the Champions League to fail to progress beyond the group stages after a woeful defeat in Donetsk.

Roberto Di Matteo's side are in danger of creating the wrong kind of history, having lifted the trophy in May, as they were replaced at the top of Group E by their talented opponents.

As it turned out, captain John Terry's presence on the pitch was the least of Chelsea's problems, although they were given an unlikely boost by Juventus's failure to win in Nordsjaellend, which keeps the Italian side one point behind. But Chelsea's next two games are against Shakhtar at home and Juventus away and, on this form, they are in a perilous position.

Managers don't normally change a winning side, but Di Matteo understandably turned to his two most senior players to cope with the considerable challenge Shakhtar were always going to provide.

This was supposed to be John Terry's chance to make a more positive contribution to Chelsea's season after all the turmoil of recent weeks.

Frank Lampard, meanwhile, was hoping to use his personal landmark, of becoming the first Chelsea player to reach 100 games in Europe, to also show he can still be part of this exciting new side.

Shakhtar clearly hadn't read the script though and unfortunately both of them made a telling negative contribution to the opening goal inside three minutes.

Lampard was the guilty party to begin with, giving the ball away carelessly to Darijo Srna. As Shakhtar advanced towards Petr Cech's goal, Luiz Adriano's shot rebounded off the outstretched arm perfectly into Brazilian midfielder Alex's path and he calmly found the net.

Chelsea struggled to regain their composure and Lampard then pulled up lame with less than 18 minutes on the clock. Eden Hazard replaced him, but the change in personnel didn't lead to an improvement in what was arguably Chelsea's worst opening 45 minutes in a game this season.

The question was whether Di Matteo could say anything during the interval to inspire a dramatic turnaround, unfortunately the Italian was quickly given an answer in the negative.

Hazard's pass was easily cut out by Adriano who was able to run unopposed toward the area before setting up another Brazilian, Fernandinho, to double the home side's advantage seven minutes after the break.

Chances continued to come their way as Chelsea pressed forward, but Shakhtar almost paid the price for being wasteful in front of goal as Oscar swept the ball into the net with two minutes remaining to spark late unfulfilled hope of a draw.