Man of the Match: If Fernandinho didn’t get his name on the scoresheet, his contributions would been lost in the result. The veteran distributor was in stellar form, attacks moving back to him from the flanks finding another point of pressure within two touches from the 27-year-old.
Having spent the last seven seasons in Donetsk, it was only right that the team’s midfield linchpin scored in such a memorable win, the Brazilian finishing just inside Petr Cech’s left post on a 52nd minute counter that he started.
Packaged for takeaway:
- This was more than an upset for Shakhtar. Perfect in Ukraine and coming off a draw at Juventus, this result was a statement to a Champions League culture that props the biggest names up center stage. The message: This team is capable of transcending their mid-level power status.
- Though there were stretches where Chelsea played their hosts to a standoff, the Blues were never the better side. In contrast, for large swaths of this match before taking a decisive lead, Shakhtar was dominant, their passing and movement cutting Chelsea’s midfield and defense apart.
- Were it not for some timely stops from Petr Cech, the Ukranians would have put this match away early. But strong saves in the 29th, 38th, 30th, and 42nd minutes kept Chelsea within reach.
- Buy that time, the home side was already up one. In the third minute, Chelsea’s inability to clear a throw launched through their penalty area gave Alex Teixeira a chance at the far (right) post. Putting his shot through Ashley Cole’s legs and under Cech’s right hand, the Brazilian attacker gave Shakhtar an early 1-0 lead.
- John Terry also had a hand in keeping the Blues close. Suspended on the home front and no longer playing for this national team, Chelsea’s captain was well rested for tonight’s game. The fresh legs showed as Terry spend a lot of time cleaning up for his teammates, kept busy be ineffectual nights from David Luiz and John Obi Mikel.
- Early in the second half, the damn broke. Eden Hazard had a ball taken off him by Fernandinho. A quick counter from Shakhtar ended with Luiz Adriano laying a pass off into the right of Chelsea’s penalty area, Fernandinho trailing for an uncontested shot. Cech had no chance.
- Shakhtar got strong performances from defenders Darijo Srna, Razvan Rat, and Oleksandr Kuchar, while goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov made a number of strong first half reads to come play long passes sent into his area.
- But this wasn’t a great performance from Chelsea. On other nights (against lesser opponents), they could have still snatched three points – a moment of brilliance obscuring an otherwise lackluster effort. Tonight, they were played to the edge of the park, even if a late Oscar goal created a deceptively close final scoreline.
- Rather than dwelling on Chelsea’s few deficiencies, this night should belong to a Shakhtar team that’s finally given spectators reason to sit up and take notice. Their draw at Juventus didn’t do it, nor did their previous run to the final eight. Today, they beat one of the world’s most famous teams, a club that happens to hold UEFA’s Champions League trophy. That should open some eyes.
- The win leaves Shakhtar on seven points and at the top of Group E through three rounds. With Juventus stumbling to a 1-1 in Denmark, Shakhtar are strong bets to make the knockout round, especially if they can (at least) draw with Juve at home in round six.
- For Chelsea, the performance is more disappointing than the result. For a number of reasons (covered in the preview), the Blues were likely to come out flat. That’s what happened. While it’s unclear they would have beaten Shakhtar under any circumstances, they have reason to put this performance behind them and concentrate on Manchester United.