Chelsea's blues after Shakhtar Donetsk defeat

Defending champions hope to bounce backat Stamford Bridge after well-drilled Shakhtar spring surprise on their home ground

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 October, 2012, 3:18am


Roberto Di Matteo's thoughts quickly turned to Chelsea's return game with Shakhtar Donetsk after seeing his side beaten 2-1 by the Ukrainian champions in Champions League group E.

Chelsea were left chasing shadows for much of the night at Donetsk's Donbass Arena and even an 88th-minute consolation from Brazilian star Oscar could not disguise the fact the home side ran out worthy winners.

Mircea Lucescu's well-drilled team now enjoy a three-point lead over defending champions Chelsea, ahead of the return fixture between the sides at Stamford Bridge on November 7.

Chelsea will hope to exact swift revenge and reclaim the top spot by prevailing in that encounter. They were at least given reason to cheer by Juventus' unexpected 1-1 draw with Danish debutants FC Nordsjaelland.

The draw left the Italian champions a point behind the Blues in third place, but Juve will expect to win when Nordsjaelland visit Turin in two weeks, so Di Matteo knows Chelsea cannot afford another slip-up.

"You have to analyse Shakhtar's performance correctly," said the Italian, who led Chelsea to their first-ever Champions League success last season.

"They're a very strong team, particularly at home, and they showed it tonight. Matches in the Champions League are always difficult and competitive. You only have to look at the results in our group to see that.

"But we could have done better as a team. We still have a good chance to qualify for the next round but we absolutely have to win our next match at home to Shakhtar."

Oscar's goal, which took his tally in this season's competition to three, was the only bright moment on an evening when Chelsea lost Frank Lampard to an early injury on the occasion of his 100th Uefa appearance for the club.

By then, Chelsea had already fallen behind to a third-minute Alex Teixeira goal, after a long Razvan Rat throw-in was allowed to reach the edge of the area before ricocheting into the Brazilian's path via John Terry's arm.

The visitors were caught cold again early in the second period, with Fernandinho doubling Shakhtar's lead after robbing Eden Hazard in midfield. It was only in the closing stages that the Blues began to exert pressure.

Di Matteo criticised his players for being too "individualistic" in the first half, and Shakhtar coach Lucescu said Chelsea's lackadaisical start to the match had helped the hosts assert their authority.

"We played spectacular football, and the score could easily have been 4-1 to us. Now it's time to think about the return match in London," the Romanian said.

"Chelsea were too relaxed at the start of the game, but when they started to press and try to score, it was too late. We were already in control of the match."

Chelsea had scored four goals in each of their three previous games, with last Saturday's 4-2 comeback win at Tottenham Hotspur enabling them to preserve their four-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

The challenge now is to ensure this setback does not unduly upset their momentum, ahead of back-to-back matches against Manchester United in the Premier League and the League Cup.

Meanwhile, it took a late goal by Mirko Vucinic to save former kings of Europe Juventus from an embarrassing defeat.

Nordsjaelland had gone ahead in the 50th minute after forward Mikkel Beckmann curled a free kick over the wall and into the net from 20 metres.

The Italians, who have a three-point lead at the top of the table in Serie A, have now drawn a record nine successive matches in European competition.

"When you have as many chances as we did tonight it is always disappointing not to win," said Juve assistant coach Angelo Alessio.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters