Chelsea have beaten Dynamo Kiev 2-1 in their latest Champions League group stage game after an entertaining and tense match that is bound to be of great relief to Jose Mourinho.
The game began brightly for the Blues and they fashioned the first sight on goal after two minutes when Ramires’ shot hit Diego Costa after the Spain international won a corner. The home side had the majority of the possession in the opening five minutes and used width more intelligently than they have down in recent weeks. Oscar had a shot saved by Shokovskiy having received the ball in the box from the right side.
Chelsea continued to apply pressure on Dynamo Kiev, their recent habit of starting games quickly evident once again. Both Azpilicueta and Baba got forward routinely, the latter venturing into the Kiev area just after the quarter hour mark but lost out. The on running Willian couldn’t quite make contact with a Oscar cut back from the far left side. The best chance came following a Willian free-kick in which the ball was out back into the box from the right side and not put in the goal by either Oscar, who couldn’t reach it in time as it drifted across the goal, or Costa who volleyed high and wide from eight yards out.
Chelsea were rewarded for their high pressing game just a few minutes later however, and they did so with a bit of luck that has eluded them this season. A mis-kicked clearance from Begovic found Baba who pushed forward and passed to Willian. The Brazil international, the author of almost everything good Chelsea have done this season, ran quickly down the right and put the ball in at pace which the hapless Dragovic put into his own goal from just outside the six yard box.
Chelsea’s approach play thereafter was good- all the star players present seemingly past their alarming dip in form. Fabaregas had the ball on the by-line but couldn’t find a teammate in the box as Chelsea did not, thankfully, sit back on their first half lead in the disasterous way they did against Liverpool on Saturday. Oscar had a shot from the edge of the box that curled about a yard wide seconds after.
Diego Costa had an apparently strong appeal for a penalty turned down just before the break when he ran into the box sandwiched between the two Kiev centre backs. On further inspection it is clear there was little if any contact and Costa should consider himself lucky to not have been booked for diving.
The second half started with Dynamo’s own close call in the box. A brilliant through ball from deep found Kravets who appeared to beat Zouma for pace and bore down on the Chelsea goal before the Frenchman recovered brilliantly to win the ball from the Dynamo forward. Willian should have doubled the lead when he headed the ball from six yards that Shovkovsky saved down low.
Vida had a shot into a crowded Chelsea box on 52 minutes and appealed for hand ball- the referee’s denial was another good decision from the Czech-but the away side were playing with more confidence than they did in the first half. Just before the hour mark Morales took advantage of a slight mix up between Terry and Matic and shot straight at Begovic.
Another chance to extend the lead went by and this time Willian was the one assisting with a typically brilliant free-kick from the right that was bundled wide by Zouma from close range. Willian dragged a shot wide minutes later and Oscar had a shot saved having received the ball from Costa- the Chelsea forward line pressing well as Kiev tried to play out from the back as they tried to assert the authority on the game once again.
The visitors’ spirited attempts to get back into the game left space at the back and gave the Chelsea the chance to counter attack. Yarmolenko, with whom Chelsea have been linked with in recent weeks, was dangerous over every dead ball situation- which became more common as the game moved into its final quarter. One corner, following a free-kick brilliantly cleared by Zouma, was flicked on at the near post and missed everybody as it went across the face of the goal. Indeed, it was from a 78th minute Yarmolenko corner that Chelsea’s worst fears were realised as Dragovic redeemed his first half own goal by finishing after Begovic didn’t deal with the original ball into the box.
Jose Mourinho responded by making two changes as Hazard and Pedro came on. The Belgian had an immediate affect on the game with a run down the left and drew the free-kick. Willian. often Chelsea’s saviour this campaign, was so again with probably his best contribution yet as he put the free-kick into the top corner of the net with a strike that few if any ‘keepers could have saved.
Chelsea didn’t sit back in the last few minutes and sought to score again. Hazard, though only on for less than ten minutes, could have created another two goals with brilliant runs down the left, both of which came to nothing. Pedro played in Costa in stoppage time but no goal came from it. The referee’s whistle went seconds later and Chelsea mercifully have a win that could see them turn around their rotten form so far this season.
There are many positives to take from this win. The performance was good despite the nervous moments in the second half that ultimately led to the Dynamo Kiev equaliser. The team’s resolve, especially after conceding, is a great relief. They have lost control of games in recent weeks; that they didn’t tonight is as much a positive as the win itself.
CHELSEA - Begovic; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Terry, Baba Rahman; Ramires, Matic; Willian (Cahill, 90), Fabregas (Hazard (78), Oscar (Pedro 78); Diego Costa
Unused Subs: Blackman, Loftus-Cheek, Kenedy, Remy
Manager: José Mourinho
DYNAMO KYIV - Shovkovskiy, Antunes, Dragovic, Vida, Khacheridi, Sydorchuk (Garmash, 45), Rybalka, González, Buyalskiy, Yarmolenko, Kravets (Morales, 55)
Unused Subs: Veloso , Morozyuk, Petrovic, Gusev, Rybka
Manager: Serhiy Rebrov