Schalke 04 0 Chelsea 3
Chelsea ran out comfortable winners against Schalke 04 to move top of their Champions League group and position themselves strongly ahead of the visit of the German side to Stamford Bridge. Fernando Torres opened the scoring with an early header and, although the hosts looked dangerous, he consolidated his side’s position with a second after the interval. Eden Hazard then added a third late on to secure the three points.
There were five changes to the side which beat Cardiff at the weekend with Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta replacing David Luiz and Ryan Bertrand at the back, with Torres in for Samuel Eto’o. Oscar and Andre Schurrle lined up behind him.
There was some talk of pressure on Chelsea to get a result in order to wipe out memories of the Basel defeat and that pressure was eased just four minutes in to the game. A quick counter-attack from Hazard brought a corner and Frank Lampard’s delivery found Branislav Ivanovic in the box. The Serb headed on for Torres, who came steaming in at the far post and put a diving header past the ‘keeper to put the Blues 1-0 up. It was a dream way for the Spaniard to mark his 100th competitive game for the club and put them on a comfortable footing.
Schalke were now looking for an equaliser but the visitors were content to soak up their pressure and try to strike on the break. One such move resulted in Oscar firing wide when he probably should have done better. The hosts were guilty in the first half of not taking their chances when they fell to them and when Uchida was presented with a glorious opportunity he sent his effort well off the mark.
It was a warning to Chelsea and as the half drew to a close the German side were looking increasingly dangerous. It took a magnificent block from Azpilicueta to deny Clemens after a Draxler cross had caught out Petr Cech and then the best chance of the half fell to Neustadter. This time, Cech was at his very best and he tipped the header over the bar when it seemed destined to hit the back of the net. The save kept his side in front at half-time but Schalke were looking dangerous and it was far from a forgone conclusion that the points would be heading back to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea came out looking for the second goal that would ensure that they would secure the win and went very close just five minutes after the restart. Again, it was a set-piece that threatened the hosts and again it was Lampard who delivered and found Torres. This time though the ball hit the top of the post and somehow Schalke got away with it.
Chelsea though were looking much more secure and were holding the ball better. On the hour mark, Lampard and Torres linked up again and the striker tried to set up Oscar in the middle but his cross didn’t have enough pace and the Schalke defenders were able to deal with it rather comfortably.
Schalke weren’t totally out of it though and Jones probably should have done better when he headed wide of the mark up the other end. Chelsea will have been relieved therefore to get the second goal that put the Germans to the sword. Unsurprisingly it was a counter-attack that did for Schalke, with Hazard again bursting forward from inside his own half before finding Oscar. The young Brazilian did well to hold off the defender before squaring for Torres and the striker showed composure to go past the ‘keeper and tuck the ball into the net.
It was now all but certain that the visitors would leave with the points and José Mourinho chose to make his first changes of the night, with John Mikel Obi coming on for the impressive Schurrle, before Oscar was replaced by David Luiz.
The icing on the cake for Chelsea came with three minutes to go when the victory was given an emphatic gloss thanks to Hazard. Ramires punted the ball upfield after a Schalke attack broke down and the Belgian picked the ball up before beating the retreating defender and tucking the ball home for his first Champions League goal. Chelsea now sit top of the group ahead of the visit of Schalke and know that six points from the remaining three games should be enough to guarantee progression at the top of the group.
Chelsea; Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Lampard, Hazard (Eto’o 88), Oscar(David Luiz 83), Schurrle (Mikel 71), Torres
Unused subs; Schwarzer, Bertrand, Willian, Mata
Scorers; Torres 5, 68, Hazard 87
Referee; V Kassai