Chelsea went to the top of Champions League Group E following a 3-0 victory over Schalke 04 at the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen on Tuesday night.
The three points has helped put the opening day loss against FC Basel, a result that Jose Mourinho described as ‘garbage’, to bed and after winning what was probably their most challenging home game the Blues will be confident of progression in the tournament with two home fixtures remaining.
Fernando Torres headed home to open the scoring in the fifth minute following a bright start for the visitors but Schalke grew in confidence as the half went on as Chelsea allowed them a lot of territory and possession of the ball. The Bundesliga side could count themselves a little unlucky that they didn’t restore parity before the break as they tested Petr Cech a number of times and there was often no-one in the right area to capitalise on Dennis Aogo’s crosses.
Chelsea surrendered a lot of the possession early in the second half as well but Cech and the defence were equal to everything they had. Torres struck the woodwork when he got his head on a Frank Lampard free-kick and the striker, who seems to have rediscovered his hunger, popped up in the 69th minute to put his side 2-0 ahead. Eden Hazard broke with pace on the counter attack and feed the ball to Oscar, who showed great strength and pace to release the ball to Torres at exactly the right time, allowing the Spaniard to take a loose touch around the keeper and slot the ball into the net.
At this point the game seemed safe for Mourinho’s side but he noticed that Lampard and Ramires didn’t have as much control on the game as they should have so brought on John Obi Mikel and David Luiz as reinforcements. After the introduction of the subs Chelsea seemed impenetrable and they polished things off with a third and final goal.
Hazard was the man to break again after being found by Ramires from deep and for a time it looked as though he was looking for Torres in order to help him seal a hat-trick only to take the chance for himself. Torres’ run helped open up the space for the Belgian and his shot easily beat Timo Hildebrand.
It wasn’t exactly champagne football but it was a good professional display and I think Torres is a worthy man of the match as he didn’t only score a brace and make a clever run to help open up the third, he held up play well and got stuck in when Chelsea didn’t have the ball.
Chelsea’s away support were also in good voice and it’s not often you would be able to hear the visiting fans at the Veltins Arena. Unfortunately they had to pay more than the home fans for the pleasure and let both Schalke and UEFA know exactly what they thought about that.