Chelsea 1 Steaua 0 as Schwarzer makes Champions League debut
Jose Mourinho might claim to be afraid of the training ground dummies but he probably won’t mind playing Steaua Bucharest again.
The Romanian champions were the perfect antidote for a Chelsea team with strikers who cannot score and are leaking goals at a worrying rate.
They stepped aside as Demba Ba opened the scoring after 11 minutes and had the decency to step aside on numerous other occasions but Mourinho’s team were unable to add to the lead.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Schwarzer 6; Ivanovic 6, Terry 6, Luiz 6, Cole 6; Mikel 6 (Ramires 74, 6), Lampard 6; Willian 6 (De Bruyne 80), Oscar 7 (Schurrle 66, 7), Hazard 7; Ba 6.
Subs not used: Cech, Torres, Mata, Cahill.
Booked: Mikel, Ivanovic.
Goal: Ba 11.
Manager: Jose Mourinho 6.
Steaua (4-1-4-1): Tatarusanu 7; Georgievski 5, Szukala 7, Gardos 5, Latovlevici 5; Pintilii 5 (Tatu 64, 5); Chipciu 5, Iancu 5, Stanciu 5 (Prepelita 61, 5), Pirvulescu 5; Kapetanos 5 (Piovaccari 71, 5).
Subs not used: Nita, Cristea, Neagu, Varela.
Booked: Georgievski, Latovlevici.
Manager: Laurentiu Reghecampf 5.
Man of the match: Eden Hazard.
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (Italy).
It did not matter. Steaua on occasion charged out of defence at a speed that suggested they were escaping a fire in their own half, but their finishing was equally erratic and they did not force a save from Mark Schwarzer for 72 minutes.
Often the match felt like nothing more than an elaborate training session and the mannequins used by Mourinho in his defensive drills might have done better after all.
Chelsea got the win they needed to take their place in Monday’s draw for the Champions League knock-out rounds as group winners and improved on their last European performance, a defeat in Basle when they failed to get a shot on target.
They will avoid the best of the Europe and that should give them a fighting chance of reaching the quarter-finals of the competition, which ought to save face considering they crashed out in the group stage last season.
Mourinho’s broader problems remain. They were never likely to disappear simply by beating a team already out of Europe but the victory was important.
Schwarzer became the oldest Champions League debutant at 41 years and 66 days and probably spent the first half wondering what all the fuss was about as Chelsea assumed control from the outset.
Oscar, back after injury, rattled a shot wide form the edge of the box within seconds of the kick-off and Steaua goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu made a mess of a cross from Frank Lampard at the near post.
There were a few corners and modest pressure, and the flimsy Romanian resistance was broken after only 11 minutes. Willian’s corner was met by the unmarked Oscar, who glanced a header towards goal. Ba charged in together with right back Daniel Georgievski and the ball was bundled into the net.
At first UEFA awarded the goal to the Macedonia full back and it would have been his second goal of the season for Mourinho’s team. He fired one into his own net as the London club won 4-0 in Bucharest in October.
Aussie rules: Mark Schwarzer replaced regular No 1 Petr Cech in goal for Chelsea
Who Chelsea could face:
Finishing top of Group E means Chelsea will play either Leverkusen, Galatasaray, Olympiakos, Zenit or Milan in the Round of 16
Eventually it was credited to Ba and Chelsea’s strikers need all the help they can get in the goal stakes.
Steaua have been strange opponents, appearing hopelessly out of their depth at times and yet they have taken points in this group from Basle and Schalke, effectively helping to secure Chelsea’s passage into the last 16 with relatively few points.
After going a goal down, the visitors hit back with evidence of why they can be a threat, carving through the centre of the pitch with little trouble and Gabriel Iancu had only Schwarzer to beat when he rolled his shot wide of the target.
Acrobatic: Steaua keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu just beats Ba to the ball
So Schwarzer’s first touch of the ball was to take a goal kick after 13 minutes. A few moments later he made his first real contribution, clutching a cross at his near post.The Australia goalkeeper was one of seven changes made by Mourinho to the team beaten at Stoke on Saturday. Ashley Cole and David Luiz returned to the defence for the first time since defeat at Newcastle more than a month ago.
In came Willian after a cold and Ba started for the first time in the Champions League, but it was not easy to make a judgment on their performances because of the unusual nature of the game.
Chelsea dominated possession and still managed to be vulnerable to Steaua’s quick counter-attacks.
Tatarusanu made a fine reaction save to deny Branislav Ivanovic as he met an Eden Hazard cross with a firm header from close range. Lampard gradually got closer with his efforts from distance.
The first went out for a throw-in but he was closing in on goal by the time the interval approached. Even Cole took on a shot from around 35 yards but the goalkeeper collected it without fuss.
Ba should have had his second goal soon after the interval. Willian, maddeningly inconsistent, produced a splendid low cross into the path of Ba, who lifted it over the bar from six yards out.
Mourinho thrust his hands deeper into the pockets of his coat and laughed.
Source : Daily mail