Was Chelsea captain John Terry on his best behaviour?
Martin Hardy judges Terry's return from a domestic suspension for racial abuse, in Europe
Nothing, it would appear, fazes John Terry. There was a confident handshake as the two teams lined up in the tunnel. He strode behind the referee Damir Skomina as Chelsea walked into a caldron of noise (with his 'Unite Against Racism' armband) and he stood firm as the figurehead in this team as the Champions League music played, as if he'd never been missing through a suspension for racially abusing a Premier League colleague.
Terry gave the referee his pen back in the first half, after he'd dropped it, so there was respect for officialdom. That was his tone all evening. Terry was too busy worrying about a possible rout than a ruck with anyone, and his behaviour was that of a captain leading his side in European competition, albeit a team outclassed. Last night was not the night to pick fights, and he didn't.
Much of what Terry did was dictated by the game, rather than his state of mind. The stadium was noisy and Shakhtar were by far the better side. This is what people thought Barcelona would do to Chelsea. In that backdrop of desperate defending, there was little scope for Terry to emerge as a noisy hero. The occasion, rather than the FA's recent suspension, seemed to blame for that.
Terry was not a rock, but nor was he Chelsea's worst defender. Last night was one of those nights for David Luiz and that took Terry out of his comfort zone. Three minutes had passed when Luiz lost Willian, Terry had to move across and deflected the shot with his arm into the path of Alex Teixeira and from there Chelsea were behind.
If there was one spot of relief it was that Terry was not at the centre of another scandal. He cannot afford it and nor can Chelsea. Shakhtar have black players, and Willian led Terry and his defensive partners a merry dance all night, but there was thankfully no suggestion of a new race row.
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