Eden Hazard missed a second-half penalty as Chelsea drew 1-1 to Maribor in the fourth Champions League round. Chelsea were the better side in the opening half of the game but fell behind after a beautiful strike by Maribor’s Agim Ibraimi in the second half.
Nemanja Matic soon equalised, but when Hazard missed the late penalty the match ended with a point to each side.
Jose Mourinho did not make as many changes to the team as first expected, with only Petr Cech, Kurt Zouma, Andre Schurrle and Didier Drogba coming in as fresh faces to the starting line-up, meaning Thibaut Courtois, Gary Cahill, Oscar and Diego Costa dropping to the bench.
Chelsea posed the most threat down the left side and a few decent chances were created in the opening minutes. Zouma had a good chance with a header, but his attempt flew over the crossbar just a few minutes into the game. Cesc Fabregas orchestrated the attacks with Filipe Luis and Hazard also heavily involved early on.
Drogba, Willian, Hazard and Schurrle all had good chances, but all failed to deliver in front of Maribor’s goal. The home side were not without chances in the first half either, though they didn’t test Cech properly until after the break.
Schurrle and Willian were replaced by Oscar and Costa at half time in an attempt to bring more spark into the attack for the second half, but if Chelsea started best in the first half, Maribor were definitely the side with the better end product at the start of the second.
On 50 minutes Ibraimi received the ball on the edge of the Chelsea area, then turned inside on his left foot and curled the ball into the top far corner to give the hosts the lead. It was a great shot that neither Cech nor Courtois would have saved, and consequently Chelsea had to come from behind to find a result in Slovenia.
The equaliser came with 17 minutes left on the clock. A corner from the right found John Terry’s head and the skipper headed the ball towards the goal. At the back stick, Matic had broken free from his marker and had an easy job to even the score from close range.
In yellow kits for the day, Chelsea had the opportunity to win the match from the spot when Hazard was brought down inside the area just five minutes from the whistle. Having never missed a Chelsea penalty before you would fancy the Belgian’s chances though a tad nonchalantly he placed the ball down the middle of the goal, only to see Jasmin Handanovic save his attempt.
The match, therefore, ended in a 1-1 draw, though it is a point earned rather than two dropped as Schalke in second place in Group G lost away to Sporting Lisbon.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry (c) Filipe Luis (Ramires 55); Matic, Fabregas; Schurrle (Oscar h-t), Willian (Diego Costa h-t), Hazard; Drogba.
Published with permission from Chesea Talk.Published 06 Nov 2014, 23:40 IST