Chelsea had to settle for a point despite hitting the woodwork twice in a tough night in Ukraine in their Champions League match against Dynamo Kiev. A draw isn’t the worst result for Chelsea, although it does leave them three points behind Porto in the group, and they still trail the Ukrainians by a point.
Jose Mourinho made several changes for this game, with Kurt Zouma starting the match at right back. With Branislav Ivanovic still unavailable, the manager picked the young Frenchman to quieten the threat of Andriy Yarmolenko. Eden Hazard returned to the side, and he looked a lot better after being dropped at the weekend. John Terry played his first Champions League game of the season, alongside Gary Cahill in defence.
From the start the Blues looked much improved at the back, with the defence once again looking settled. Mourinho had Nemanja Matic and Ramires sitting in front of the back four, and that defensive screen helped. The back four did well last term because they were rarely exposed, that being something the manager aimed to repeat.
Cesc Fabregas continued in a more advanced position, and he, Hazard and Willian all did well going forward. The Spaniard had four shots, more than any other Blues player, showing that he’s becoming an influence once more. He also had a penalty appeal turned down early on, another one for Mourinho to rage over.
Both Hazard and Willian came close to breaking the deadlock. The Brazilian hit the post with a free-kick, after scoring from one in the last two games in this competition. A curled shot from Hazard did beat the keeper, but it unfortunately came back off the post, saving Dynamo.
While coming so close is disappointing, this was a good display. The team worked well at the back, and the attacking midfielders all played well. On another day the result could have been different, but Mourinho needs that other day to come in the remaining three matches. With four points from three games, the Blues are third, and they’ll need to win the home ties with Dynamo and Porto, or risk early elimination. An unthinkable prospect for the manager.
Nemanja Matic was up against things in holding midfield, but he produced a great performance, looking close to the player of last season. If that player can stick around it would be a huge boost to the squad. The same can be said for a few other midfielders, who haven’t hit the heights so far.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad point. There are positives, but they are tinged with ifs and maybes. This isn’t a result that takes any of the pressure off Mourinho, but it’s something to build on. A solid foundation for future games, one which needs the skill of Hazard and ruthlessness of Costa to return to past glories.
LCN Man of the Match: Nemanja Matic