Chelsea nails winner past Shakhtar
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RESULTS
|Wednesday, November 7|
|Sporting Braga||1-3||Manchester United||Recap|
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Victor Moses headed home the winner four minutes into injury time to earn Chelsea a 3-2 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday, allowing the holders to move level on points with the Ukrainian side in Group E.
Moses, who came on as an 80th-minute substitute, headed home Juan Mata's corner to earn the English giants a scarcely deserved win that moves them level on points with Shakhtar with two matches left. Juventus is a point behind in third.
''Now it's probably going to go down to the last kick of the last game in this group,'' Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo said.
Without Moses' goal - which ended Shakhtar's year-long, 38-match unbeaten run in all competitions - Chelsea would have been languishing in third place and facing the genuine possibility of becoming the first reigning champion to fail to make the knockout stage. Now, they go to Juventus in two weeks' time with everything up for grabs, but Shakhtar will wonder how.
Outplaying the hosts for large periods, they twice came from behind after conceding sloppy goals because of goalkeeping errors by Andriy Pyatov, with the excellent Willian scoring both equalizers to enhance his burgeoning reputation.
''It's painful to lose such a match,'' said Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu, whose team had too much movement and pace for Chelsea for the opening 70 minutes. ''We dominated the game.''
Lost in all the late drama was a sublime 45-yard finish from Oscar, which put Chelsea 2-1 up in the 40th minute. That came following an error from Pyatov, who was also at fault for a comical opener - scored by Fernando Torres in the sixth - when the striker closed down an another attempted clearance by the goalkeeper.
This game was the Champions League at its best: silky skills, high-quality technique and a bucketful of chances, most of them coming from a Shakhtar side driven forward by Willian and the excellent Fernandinho, another dynamic Brazilian midfielder. On this evidence, Shakhtar should be considered a genuine contender for the title.
Chelsea, which left out captain John Terry because of a lack of match fitness and was also without injured pair Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard, has been heavily linked with signing Willian over the past year and cannot fail to have been impressed with him here.
The tireless Fernandinho was the architect of both goals, driving forward incisively for the first as he crossed for Willian to sidefoot home in the ninth minute.
For the second equalizer, Fernandinho showed his creative side, sliding a telling ball through for Darijo Srna to cross to Willian for another low finish from 10 yards five minutes before half time.
Razvan Rat hit a swerving volley against the post as Shakhtar threatened to take the lead early in the second half, with some of its possession football and passing a joy to watch. But it was Chelsea that finished the stronger, knowing a draw wasn't good enough.
''The spirit that my group showed again to keep going to the end - we knew we had to score at the end and we did so,'' Di Matteo said. ''We knew what kind of pressure we'd be under and we didn't want to expose ourselves too much. We knew we could score with the last kick, and that is exactly what happened.''
Torres collected the Golden Boot from last summer's Euro 2012 before kickoff but he came into the game without a goal in a month and his old critics starting to get on his back. His mini-drought ended, though, when Yaroslav Rakitskiy's ill-advised backpass was fired by the sliding Pyatov straight at Torres, with the ball deflecting into an empty net.
Oscar's stunning goal also had its origins in a mistake by the Ukraine goalkeeper. Having burst out of box to head clear Juan Mata's crossfield pass, Pyatov should have headed away from danger. Instead the ball went straight to Oscar, who showed perfect technique to chest down and drill the ball with the outside of his foot into an unguarded net for one of the goals of this season's tournament.
Otherwise, it was all Shakhtar, with Chelsea's defense all over the place at times, especially down its left side. Like during last season's run to a first title, however, Di Matteo's team came up with a goal just when it mattered.