Sporting out as Chelsea impress
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Chelsea FC 3-1 Sporting Clube de Portugal
Sporting missed out on the round of 16 after the Group G winners underlined their quality to finish six points clear.
Article top media content
• Loss to Group G winners ends Sporting's hopes as Schalke prevail at Maribor
• Sporting heading for UEFA Europa League as Chelsea finish six points clear
• John Obi Mikel nets first UEFA Champions League goal in 55th game
• The Blues extend winning run against Portuguese sides to eight matches
• Round of 16 draw takes place in Nyon at 12.00CET on 15 December
UEFA Champions League Group G winners Chelsea exerted their quality in a 3-1 victory against Sporting Clube de Portugal, eliminating Marco Silva's team from the competition in the process.
The visitors were up against it after Cesc Fàbregas and André Schürrle both scored for José Mourinho's side in the opening 16 minutes. Jonathan Silva pulled one back in the second half but John Obi Mikel's third means Sporting drop into the UEFA Europa League, after FC Schalke 04 prevailed at NK Maribor to snatch second place.
Sporting were given great support by 3,000 boisterous travelling fans, yet started nervously, with Chelsea bossing possession and dictating the game's rhythm. That tension showed when UEFA Champions League debutant Ricardo Esgaio rashly upended Filipe Luís just inside the penalty area. Fàbregas calmly beat Rui Patrício from the spot, like he had in the UEFA EURO 2012 semi-final shoot-out when Spain met Portugal.
The Lisbon outfit attempted to regain their composure but just as they were finding a foothold in the match, Mourinho's men struck again. André Schürrle, one of six changes to the XI that won at Schalke, arrowed a shot home from the edge of the box after collecting Nemanja Matić's pass and nimbly turning inside.
Sporting endeavoured to use the flanks well, with Islam Slimani heading narowly wide from Diego Capel's delivery in their first attack of real substance. Yet the excellent Matić, the former SL Benfica man again haunting Sporting, came close next, curling a fine shot centimetres over after a rapid counterattack.
For all their industry, it was a surprise when Sporting finally got back into the contest. There was more great work on the right by André Carrillo and when Chelsea failed to get his cross away, the advancing Jonathan Silva placed a precise finish into Petr Čech's far corner.
However, the 2012 winners were insatiable. Patrício produced one outstanding stop from Mohamed Salah before the west Londoners' third arrived from an unlikely source – Mikel tapping in his first UEFA Champions League goal after Slimani inadvertently flicked on a Fàbregas free-kick.
Marco Silva switched Sporting to 4-4-2 as they chased the game, and Čech made one nerveless save from a Slimani header, but Chelsea closed out the match with relative comfort to leave the Leões disappointed. They await the UEFA Europa League round of 32 draw at 13.00CET on Monday.