Chelsea close to elimination
TURIN, Italy ● Chelsea’s hopes of successfully defending their Champions League title were left hanging by a thread after an emphatic 3-0 defeat to a dominant Juventus here on Tuesday.
Chelsea went into the clash one point ahead of the Bianconeri in Group E but were dominated throughout and found no answer to goals in either half from Fabio Quagliarella and Arturo Vidal.
The champions’ hopes of any kind of fightback were dashed when second half substitute Sebastian Giovinco beat the onrushing Petr Cech in the first minute of injury time to secure a 3-0 win.
Juventus started positively and should have had several goals during a dominant first-half although Chelsea also wasted two solid chances.
Early on Cech had to rush to keep out Stephan Lichsteiner’s shot at the back post from Claudio Marchisio’s short cross.
Juventus then survived a massive scare after Oscar was allowed to run up the left wing, cut inside defender Andrea Barzagli and into the middle to set up Eden Hazard at the far post only for the Belgian to be denied by ‘keeper Gianluigi Buffon.
That foray illustrated the danger posed by Chelsea on the counter-attack, but it failed to halt Juventus’s search for a first-half opener.
While midfielder Andrea Pirlo was keeping things under control at the back of midfield and regularly finding Claudio Marchisio and Vidal with inch-perfect passes, all too often Juve’s offensives flickered out.
Cech twice easily collected a shot by Quagliarella, on 23 minutes, and then Pirlo’s low freekick from 25 metres out.
At the other end, Ashley Cole found Oscar on the edge of the area but after a perfect square ball to Ramires the shot from 20 metres went well wide of Buffon’s goal.
A Ramires charge up the middle then drew the Juve defence and when he laid the ball off for Hazard the Belgian was unlucky to see his shot bounce off Andrea Barzagli before Buffon collected to stem the panic.
When Juventus scored, it was in textbook fashion but came with a dose of good luck, Pirlo hitting a speculative dipping shot that Quagliarella managed to deflect from 15 metres out into the Chelsea net.
Chelsea were lucky not to concede a second a minute later, Cole rushing to clear as Lichsteiner’s shot bobbled towards the goalline.
Seconds later Buffon rushed out in timely fashion to deny Mata as the Spaniard ran down on goal unhindered.
Despite their advantage, Juve emerged with as much intent as they had shown early in the first half and, again, should have doubled their lead early on.
Vucinic opted to pass back out to the fringes of the area when in a perfectly good shooting position and then Vidal’s shot on the turn was collected easily by Cech.
Juventus were then denied what appeared to be a valid penalty claim when defender Gary Cahill impeded Vucinic in the area after Quagliarella’s lob put the Montenegrin through.
As Juve contiued to press, Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo replaced midfielder Cesar with Victor Moses just before the hour but a minute later the Blues had conceded their second goal.
Asamoah’s run into the area from the left pushed Chelsea defence back towards goal and he promptly cut the ball back into space for Vidal, whose shot took a deflection off Ramires to wrong-footed Cech.
Di Matteo sent on Fernando Torres, but Chelsea had little to offer and when diminutive midfielder Giovinco was released in midfield the visitors’ defence was absent as Cech came out in futile fashion to thwart the ‘Atomic Ant’.
Shakhtar Donetsk 5, FC Nordsjaelland 2
A hat trick by Luiz Adriano and two goals by Willian moved Shakhtar to the top of Group E in the Champions League.
Nordsjaelland took the lead in the 24th minute through Morten Nordstrand, but Shakhtar contentiously equalized two minutes later.
Willian kicked the ball downfield after an uncontested drop ball toward Nordsjaelland’s players, but Adriano took possession and rounded the goalkeeper to score with the home team watching on. The goal was given despite loud protests.
Kasper Lorentzen put Nordsjaelland ahead again in the 29th, but Willian scored from a rebound in the 44th and added another in the 50th.
Adriano scored in the 53rd and 81st.
Shakhtar leads the group with 10 points, one more than Juventus and two in front of Chelsea.