Chelsea jumped to the top of their Champions League group with a 1-0 win over Sporting Lisbon. A first half goal from Nemanja Matic gave the Blues their first win of the season in Europe, but they missed several chances and had a few let-offs with Sporting having opportunities to level it up.
The game was eerily like the last Champions League game against Schalke, with the Blues taking the lead and then missing some clear cut chances to make things easier for themselves. After that, Sporting pushed for a goal and they came close to getting it. In the end, it finished 1-0 and Chelsea lead by two points from Schalke and Maribor, who shared a 1-1 draw in Germany.
From the off Chelsea dominated the game, with Diego Costa going through one on one with Rui Patricio, and the Sporting doing enough to deny the red-hot striker. That pattern continued, with Andre Schurrle somehow sending Eden Hazard’s pull back wide when he had the goal at his mercy.
The Blues finally took the lead through the unlikeliest of players in defensive midfielder Matic, who had a very good game. Cesc Fabregas swung in the free kick from the left hand side, and Matic rose at the back post to loop a header over Patricio and in to the net. The Blues continued to press, but they went in to the break at 1-0.
They saw more opportunities go begging after the interval, with impressive movement and build up play being wasted by poor finishing. At this level you can’t really get away with that, so they’ll have to improve on that if they are to go far in Europe, and they’ll need to do better in their meeting with Arsenal at the weekend.
Chelsea had more opportunities on goal, with Matic playing a wonderful pass through the Sporting defence for Oscar, but he couldn’t get to the ball in time to apply the much needed finish. Jose Mourinho brought John Obi Mikel on to try and tighten the game up, but it didn’t really work. Filipe Luis and Mohammed Salah both missed good chances, while at the other end shots from Nani and Freddy Montero came close for the hosts.
Thibaut Courtois had some saves to make but he was never really challenged, but the lack of a second goal made this game more of a worry. The missed chances have slightly taken away from the end result, and an away win in Europe really should be celebrated rather than criticised.
The Blues have now gone top of Group G, and with two games against Maribor next up, they should be able to get a good grip on the group now and move closer to a spot in the last 16. The focus for Chelsea now will be on the weekend meeting with Arsenal, as they look to strengthen their position domestically before the next Champions League game in three weeks’ time.
LCN Man of the match: Nemanja Matic