Steaua Bucharest 0 Chelsea 4 match report: Blues hit the high notes in the Champions League thanks to Juan Mata

Campaign back on track after opening defeat

Stadionul Steaua

Jose Mourinho hasn’t had a lot to smile about lately, but Juan Mata’s display in Romania surely helped improve his mood as Chelsea got their Champions League campaign back on track in convincing fashion.

Mourinho’s demeanour in the build-up to the match had been as dark as the rain clouds that were encamped over Bucharest for the past few days, however this was just the result and performance he would have wanted to lift the gloom.

A brace from Ramires, which sandwiched an own goal by Daniel Georgievski, ensured Chelsea secured their first win in their Champions League group and started putting the Basel defeat of a fortnight ago behind them. There were confident performances all over the pitch, but it was Mata, the man whose relationship with the manager has come under intense scrutiny, that shone most of all.

Mourinho has always prided himself on his man-management skills and when it comes to his No 10, the Chelsea manager certainly seems to know what he’s doing. After weeks of cross examination over why he’s left Mata out on a regular basis, Mourinho explained that his all-round game was worthy of a start in the Romanian capital.

Chelsea looked a different side with him in the team and he was significantly effective at both ends of the pitch, adding work-rate to the finesse he’s already blessed with. In contrast, Mata’s compatriot Fernando Torres, the man who has been the centre of such controversy over the last few days, had another evening to forget.

In many ways, his day was representative of his career since he joined Chelsea from Liverpool for a British record £50m in January 2011. The few sporadic highs have always tended to be swiftly followed by a low.

But this was a crazy few hours even by the Spaniard’s standards. First there was the good news in the afternoon that the Football Association had decided not to hand him an extra punishment for his altercation with Jan Vertonghen at the weekend and he would serve just the one game ban after all.

It must have given the striker, not to mention the moody Mourinho, a welcome lift going into this match they needed to win. However, just 36 seconds he collapsed in agony clutching his knee after working hard to win the ball back from Cristian Tanase and despite attempts to run it off, Samuel Eto’o replaced him soon after.

Some, particularly those from White Hart Lane, may feel justice is done if Torres is now missing for the next few weeks anyway. Crucially though it didn’t upset Chelsea’s rhythm in the early stages and everyone in white looked far more comfortable in possession with Mata out there with them, orchestrating their attacks.

They had already threatened with an André Schürrle shot which was only prevented from going into the net by a desperate block from the Steaua defence, when Chelsea deservedly went in front. Schürrle, who was playing his best game since his £18m summer transfer from Bayer Leverkusen, escaped down the left wing and his cross was defected into Ramires’ path by Eto’o and the Brazilian midfielder neatly touched the ball into the bottom corner.

The presence of Mata wasn’t the only reassuring one at the stadium where they lost 1-0 in the last 16 of the Europa League just six months ago, for captain John Terry was picked alongside David Luiz instead of Gary Cahill.

Terry sat out the Uefa Super Cup Final and the woeful defeat against Basel in the competition a fortnight ago, so it was significant that Mourinho decided to bring him back into European action. The 32-year-old was up against Federico Piovaccari, scorer of seven goals this season, yet the Steaua striker barely caused a threat.

It looked like only some reckless finishing could keep Steaua in the match, but Chelsea added the crucial second just before the break. Unsurprisingly Mata was at the centre of it one again, sending Eto’o through on goal with a typically confident first time pass. Unfortunately for the striker, who is still searching for his first goal in a Chelsea shirt, Ciprian Tatarusanu blocked his effort, but the ball rebounded off Georgievski and into the net.

The only question was whether Chelsea would play in the second half with as much focus and determination as the first and their emphatic answer came just 10 minutes later. A sublime move involving Schürrle and Oscar was finished off at the far post with a fierce shot by Ramires, which prompted even the locals to applaud.

They gasped in awe again moments later when Mata struck the post following a sublime dribble into the area by Oscar, who also hit the woodwork late on.

The home side appeared in awe of their more experienced opponents, although they did threaten with shots from Tanase and Nicolae Stanciu, but then Frank Lampard added to their misery with a typical finish in the last minute. Chelsea’s only disappointment was that Mata’s display wasn’t rewarded with the goal he deserved, but suddenly Chelsea and their manager have reason to be in good spirits once again.

Man of the match Mata.

Match rating 6/10.

Referee C V Carballo (Sp).

Attendance 50,000.

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Sport
A view of today's Spanish papers
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
News
people

Sport
sportAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
books

Review: Witty banalities aside, the comedian has an authentic voice

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London