Classy Juventus deny Chelsea midfielder Oscar his winning performance in late show
Chelsea 2 Juventus 2
Finally, they brought it home last night to Stamford Bridge: the European Cup, polished up, paraded around the pitch and introduced to each stand of the ground's four stands individually. The fulfilment of years of striving, it was a moment that no one would begrudge Chelsea but football moves on at a relentless pace.
At any club that shares Chelsea's ambitions the question is, inevitably, what's next? For a few spellbinding minutes this was Oscar's night when the 21-year-old Brazilian, on his first start for the club, scored two goals, the second of which is a dead cert for every end-of-season montage. But his effect on the occasion was abruptly curtailed by the recurrence of a few old problems.
Questions over the defensive partnership of John Terry and David Luiz? You bet. Another woeful, anonymous performance from Fernando Torres? Afraid so. Even one of the old reliables from last season, John Obi Mikel, found himself staring at his toes having given away possession in the moments leading up to substitute Fabio Quagliarella's equaliser with ten minutes left.
The second goal of the game from Oscar, a single brilliant touch and then a strike of the ball to beat the estimable Gianluigi Buffon, was an exhilarating moment for Stamford Bridge, as precious as the sight of the European Cup on home turf. But as for the big picture, and where this new Chelsea are heading, that is still yet to be resolved.
Even the European champions are permitted their off-days but already two of those nine home points that big sides in this competition like to bank have gone begging. The pressure goes up a notch for the next game against Nordsjaelland in Denmark on 2 October. Most of all, the problems that were washed aside by the scale of their achievement in Munich last season have crept back in from the margins.
Now that Roberto Di Matteo no longer has recourse to Didier Drogba, so much more depends on Torres being in the mood and on his game. Last night, save one first half header, he barely had a sight of goal– which was not entirely his own fault. Daniel Sturridge, Di Matteo later revealed, felt a problem with his hamstring in a training session on Tuesday and had he been available it is hard to believe Torres would have lasted the full 90 minutes.
There are still new players in this team who are finding their way with Chelsea, including Eden Hazard whom Di Matteo was adamant should have had a penalty for a shove in the box on him by Andrea Barzagli in the second half. The Chelsea manager is rarely exercised by referee's decisions in public but the Portuguese official Pedro Proenca got the closest to an admonishment Di Matteo is likely to issue.
The Hazard decision was marginal – he does go down easy. But the studding of Oscar by Leonardo Bonucci, a collision between boot and ankle that the Italian defender could have avoided, was dreadful and necessitated the substitution of the Brazilian. It was a pity that the night had to end that way, although the memory of his second goal will endure.
Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Junior is no Drogba, whose No 11 shirt he has inherited, but Chelsea hope the £25m man from Internacional in Brazil will take them in a new direction altogether. For the first 30 minutes it felt like he needed pointing in the general direction of the action. Then it all changed.
The first of his goals was a little fortuitous, taking, as it did, a hefty deflection off Bonucci on its way past Buffon. Nevertheless, the decision to take the shot, on 31 minutes, demonstrated a certain confidence.
As for the second goal, two minutes later, it was the kind of strike that heralds a precious talent. The first touch, with his back to goal, took Bonucci and the famous Andrea Pirlo out the game in an instant, and then Oscar swivelled and hit a curling shot with his right foot into the top corner of Buffon's goal. It was a rub-your-eyes-in-disbelief moment. Yes, that really did just happen.
Before then, Juventus had the best chances, the first when Chelsea's back four was opened by Barzagli's ball from his own half that Claudio Marchisio ran on to. Petr Cech did well to save on that occasion.
After that Mirko Vucinic should have at least forced a save from Cech when the enterprising Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal played the striker in on goal.
It was Vidal who scored Juventus' goal before the break, Kwadwo Asamoah and Marchisio working an opening for him. The Juventus midfielder went past Frank Lampard and hit a low left-footed shot out of the reach of Cech. Off-key, Chelsea might just have got away with it on another night but the champions of Italy sought out their weaknesses.
By the time Juventus got their second goal, Di Matteo had brought on Juan Mata and Ryan Bertrand in an attempt to create something of note in the second half. Massimo Carrera, the stand-in for the suspended Antonio Conte, introduced Quagliarella and he made the difference.
The striker slipped the ball between Cech's legs having sprung a weak offside trap to run on to Marchisio's pass on 80 minutes. Mikel had given the ball away earlier. It was a sorry sequence of errors. Quagliarella might have had another but his shot clipped the bar and Chelsea never looked close to a winner.
The serious teams in the Champions League do not allow a two-goal lead to slip at home, even in their first group game and at the very least they have something in reserve to rescue the result.
Chelsea need only look towards Barcelona, who came from behind to beat Spartak Moscow last night, or Real Madrid for their comeback on Tuesday against Manchester City.
It is still early days but after being flattened by Atletico Madrid in the European Super Cup final, this is a Chelsea side still trying to find their feet in the big competition.
Winning it again this season was always a monumental task. Oscar's goals were a revelation last night but there was something a little too familiar about the problems.
Man of the match Vidal.
Match rating 6/10.
Referee P Proenca (Port).
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