Roberto Di Matteo says it will be 'hard for Chelsea to qualify' from Champions League group phase despite victory

 

Roberto Di Matteo warned that Chelsea still face an uphill battle to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages after they left it late to take control of Group E.

The European champions survived a scare in last night's game against Nordsjaelland before scoring three times in the final 11 minutes to seal a flattering 4-0 victory in Copenhagen.

That was enough to edge Di Matteo's men above Shakhtar Donetsk on goal difference in a group that is beginning to look like a three-way battle between the top two and Juventus.

Chelsea will need to play much better than last night to come out on top in their upcoming double-header against Shakhtar, from which they require at least four points to remain favourites to qualify as group winners.

Di Matteo said: "The Ukrainian champions are a very good team, and it's going to be hard for us to qualify.

"For us, it was important to win.

"The scoreline shows four goals scored and none conceded, so that's pleasing.

"Away from home, it's not easy in this competition."

Chelsea were not the only European superpower to struggle away from home against so-called minnows last night, with Manchester United forced to come from behind against Cluj and last year's runners-up Bayern Munich suffering a shock defeat at BATE Borisov.

"There are no pushovers in the Champions League - look at Bayern losing, and United having to come back," said Di Matteo, who was hoping his side's late show would prove the start of better away days to come in the competition.

Chelsea surrendered leads in all of their group matches on their travels last term, and Di Matteo said: "We got a clean sheet, another one, and scored four goals. Who knows? Hopefully some more will come away from home."

Nordsjaelland boss Kasper Hjulmand had "mixed feelings" about the outcome of the contest.

"It looks stupid on the board, 4-0," he said.

"Actually I think we played a tight game for 75 minutes and then we collapsed with the second goal.

"We'd just had a good opportunity and were playing well, creating chances, but we didn't do well in the last 15 minutes.

"Physically, we're still lacking some fitness.

"When you play in the Premier League compared to the Danish league, it's difficult.

"That's one part of it. The other is, of course, we didn't score.

"Goals change games and we needed a goal.

"Chelsea did better than us in the last third of the pitch, and have quality players who put the chances away."

PA

Related article from London's Evening Standard...

Stylish Roberto Di Matteo is making the most of Andre Villas-Boas's template for success

 

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