Chelsea moved top of their Champions League group with a big win in Israel against Maccabi Tel-Aviv on Tuesday evening. Goals from Gary Cahill, Willian, Oscar and Kurt Zouma inspired the Blues to victory, although manager Jose Mourinho didn’t seem best pleased on the touchline. With one more game left in the group, against Porto at Stamford Bridge, a draw should be enough to go through to the Round of 16 in first place.
Despite winning on Sunday, Mourinho shuffled his pack for this one, dropping Branislav Ivanovic and Kenedy to the bench, with Cesar Azpilicueta and Abdul Baba Rahman coming back in. Pedro was also left out, with Oscar coming in. That saw Eden Hazard moving back out to the left.
The other change brought the first goal, as Cahill was called back into the starting line-up. The centre half brought the first save of the game with a header from a corner, and he was the first to the rebound, finishing it off to open the scoring. The Blues had been dominant in the early stages, they just needed someone to finish, and lucky Cahill was on hand to provide that.
Former Blue Tal Ben Haim saw red just before half time, making his side’s job even more difficult. He wildly swung his leg at Diego Costa, and the referee immediately went for the red card. Going into the second half, Chelsea looked to be completely in control, with a goal and a man advantage.
Despite that, Maccabi came out fighting in the second period, pushing for an equaliser. The home side’s attackers got free a little too often for Mourinho’s liking, as he seemed furious on the touchline. Given just how badly things have gone for the team this season, you couldn’t blame him if he was worried that they’d throw this lead away.
However, they moved closer to the three points with just over 15 minutes to go, as Willian scored his sixth direct free kick of the season. It was perfectly placed for the Brazilian, and he lifted it over the wall and dropped it in the bottom corner, a goal which his excellent performance deserved.
After that, the floodgates opened. Oscar scored the only goal from open play, as he tucked in Baba Rahman’s cross after a good move. The Brazilian had troubled the defence a couple of times over the course of the night, and he finally had his goal with 10 minutes to go.
The fourth came in a similar manner to the first, with Zouma heading in from a corner to complete the win. Dynamo Kiev’s win in Porto meant that the Blues didn’t qualify on the night, but they can seal it win a point against Porto in two weeks’ time. Before that, there’s the small matter of a clash against Spurs, as Chelsea aim to move up the league table.
LCN Man of the Match: Willian