Chelsea avoided any matchday-six drama in the Champions League as they booked their place in the knockout stages courtesy of a comfortable 2-0 win over Porto at Stamford Bridge this evening.
A 12th-minute own goal awarded by the official behind the goal put the Blues on their way, before Willian made the result safe on a night when only victory would guarantee a spot in the last 16.
Crucially, Jose Mourinho’s side progress as Group G winners while his former club finish third and are demoted to the Europa League because of Dynamo Kiev’s 1-0 win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv.
Chelsea join Premier League counterparts Manchester City and Arsenal in Monday’s last-16 draw, and avoid Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich courtesy of their first-place finish – important considering that winning the competition could be their only chance of playing in it next season.
The Special One took no chances with his team selection. Captain John Terry and Ramires were risked after recent injuries and Thibaut Courtois played his first game in the competition this season.
There was also a start for for Diego Costa, who has found himself on the bench of late, but Mourinho reverted to his first-choice striker for the visit of the club that he lifted this trophy with in 2004.
Costa was in the thick of the action from the first whistle and played a crucial role in Chelsea’s 12th-minute opener. Eden Hazard sent him through on goal for a shot which was saved by Iker Casillas.
The ball bounced back off Marcano Sierra and over the line despite the best efforts of Maicon.
Without the goal-line technology available in the Premier League, it was up to the official to adjudge whether the ball had crossed the line, and he got the decision spot on to settle early Chelsea nerves.
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It was just the start that the Blues would have wanted but Costa was not satisfied, and his petulance got him yellow carded as he needlessly left a foot in on Spain international teammate Casillas.
Oscar and Willian combined for a good chance to double Chelsea’s lead after 28 minutes. Casillas was left helpless after a shot from the former took a deflection but missed the post by a few yards.
Porto offered little in terms of an attacking threat aside from the occasional Yacine Brahimi burst. The Algerian winger tested Courtois at either end of the first half with shots from unlikely positions.
Chelsea had one foot in the knockout stages seven minutes after the restart as Willian fired powerfully into the bottom corner after smart work from Costa and Hazard in a lovely team move.
With their opponents needing a three-goal comeback to salvage their own qualification hopes, Porto opened themselves up and Chelsea had plenty of chances to increase their cushion on the counter.
A Costa goal was perhaps the only thing missing from a satisfying night for Mourinho’s men. The 27-year-old had the goal at his mercy twice, but firstly his lack of pace and then his touch let him down.
It was Hazard who came closest to adding to the scoring. He weaved through a couple of Porto defenders in the area and struck low against the post as his wait for a first goal this season continued.
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