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After the groups were drawn at the end of August, Chelsea were expected to ease through to the knockout stages after being handed what was perceived to be an easy group. However, they were given an early reminder at how competitive the Champions League can be when they were stunned by Basel at Stamford Bridge. And the same Swiss side returned with the same result in the reverse fixture with a late-winner in the 87th minute to complete a double over Jose Mourinho’s men.
It was all one-way traffic since the start with the Swiss side dominating every aspect of the game. John Obi Mikel had a clear the ball off the line to keep the score at 0-0 in the first half too. By the half hour mark it was all Basel and Chelsea were clearly frustrated. The frustration continued as Samuel Etoo had to be substituted having over-stretched for a ball and he immediately knew his game was over before the half-way mark.
The trend continued in the second half and it was only Fernando Torres and Eden Hazard who looked close to being threatening for the English side. It was a dismal performance overall by Jose Mourinho’s men not even a single shot on target for majority of the game.
It was late into the game when Mohamed Salah profited from a mistake by Ivanovic and gave the home side a 1-0 lead in the 87th minute.
The only consolation for Jose Mourinho and Chelsea was the fact that it was a 0-0 draw in the other game in the group with Steaua Bucharest and Schalke playing out a less-eventful game at the Stadionul Ghencea. Chelsea are through to the next round thanks to that result.
Though Steaua will naturally be disappointed with the result tonight but they can take solace from the performance. Although one gets the sense their opposition tonight never really stretched themselves, they still dealt with whatever Schalke threw at them adeptly and can consider themselves unlucky not to have broken the deadlock as they spurned a variety of opportunities throughout the game.
Schalke, meanwhile, will be pleased that they managed to claim a potentially vital draw, though the manner in which they did so will be cause for concern. Although they were solid defensively, Howedes, in particular, was impressive, they looked fairly toothless in attack and are clearly missing the predatory instincts of Klass Jan-Huntelaar. Still, their opportunity to progress remains in their hands and they will be hopeful they can do just that in their forthcoming crunch game against Basel.