Chelsea got what they desperately needed last night in the Champions League, a win with plenty of goals and a clean sheet, as they beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 4-0.
Chelsea’s run of bad luck looked to continue in the early stages of last night, Ruben Loftus-Cheek was booked within 90 seconds of the kick-off after catching one of the Tel Aviv players with his studs in the tackle.
But worse was to come just a few minutes later when Eden Hazard missed a penalty. When it rains it pours. Hazard’s penalty was awful. Gone was that confident swagger he normally shows from the penalty spot when he gives the keeper the eyes and rolls it into the corner. Here he decided to hit the ball with a bit of power and sent it over the bar and into the stands.
The penalty was won by Willian when he was put through on goal and tried to take the ball around the Tel Aviv goalkeeper, Predrag Rajkovic, who caught him and brought him down. Having given the penalty the referee should have sent the Tel Aviv goalkeeper off but awarded just a yellow instead.
It took just 15 minutes the breakthrough to come and when it did come for Chelsea it came with a little luck. Having won the penalty earlier Willian now decided to take the free-kick from some 35 yards out. His free-kick aimed at the far corner of the net with the intention of allowing someone to get a touch to it, but it never came and the ball bounced into the net catching Rajkovic out.
On the stroke of halftime Chelsea doubled their lead when Oscar scored from the penalty spot after Tal Ben Haim (formerly of Chelsea) brought down Diego Costa. It looked like he got a little touch on the ball but not enough to take it out of the path of Costa who could have still got a shot away had he not been brought down.
Just before the hour mark Chelsea got a third through the combination of Costa and Cesc Fabregas. Fabregas floated the ball into box for Costa who powered his shot into the top corner. Oscar made a brilliant little run in the build up to help create the space for Costa.
Chelsea got their fourth and final goal with less than 15 minutes to go when they were able to hit Tel Aviv on the counter. Loic Remy ran with the ball into the box, pulled it to get past his man and took a shot. Rajkovic managed to get a hand to it to deny Remy but it fell into the path of Fabregas who tapped it into the empty net.
Remy should have scored but it was a decent save by Rajkovic.
A good 4-0 win for Chelsea in the end and a good confidence booster ahead of weekends game against Arsenal however there were plenty of problems still on display.
Eden Hazard looks out of sorts and devoid of confidence. He gave the ball away on more than a couple of occasions, didn’t look confident running at players like he can, and just all round looked in a slump.
Chelsea’s defence still looks vulnerable. Tel Aviv could have scored once or twice and a better side could and would have punished Chelsea on the numerous occasions that their players gave the ball away.
However despite looking vulnerable the Chelsea defence looked better without Branislav Ivanovic. Cesar Azpilicueta looks better on his natural right hand side, he got more involved in the game and Remy, who was playing out on the right after Willian went off injured, didn’t have to track back and cover as much as when Ivanovic plays.
Baba Rahman looked good out on the left even if he did give the ball away a couple of times, he was quick get up and down the line winning the ball for his side. A run of games to help him settle and gel with the rest of the backline could be just what he and the Chelsea defence needs.
Without Ivanovic the rest of the defence didn’t seem to get caught out of position.
Willian going off injured so early into the match with a hamstring injury is disappointing. He did well while he was on and looked like he wanted to prove a point and win his place back, as shown by him winning the penalty and taking and scoring that free kick. He’ll be a big miss this weekend.
Ending on a positive a special mention needs to be given to Ruben Loftus-Cheek who was our man of the match. After getting so early he could have gone hiding trying to avoid picking up a second but he didn’t. He looked calm with the ball, his passing was good, and he broke up the play winning the ball back well. Hopefully he is given more chances this season.
A good night for Chelsea in the end. A good result with a clean sheet makes for a good confidence booster but there is still plenty of work to be done.