There were plenty of pre-match warning signs for Chelsea ahead of this game. Shakhtar came into it having just notched up their 21st successive top-flight win and setting a record of 12 straight victories from their first 12 games this term. If that wasn’t enough, Mircea Lucescu’s side also hold the Ukrainian record for having scored in all of their last 31 league games. So it was no surprise to see the home side kick-off full of confidence against the holders. The hosts had Chelsea on the ropes from the off and Shakhtar took the lead inside three minutes after a long throw caused confusion amongst the Chelsea rearguard and the ball fell to Alex Teixeira, who took a touch before calmly slotting past Petr Cech. Their second came after Eden Hazard, on for the injured Frank Lampard, was dispossessed in the centre circle, allowing Luiz Adriano to surge forward and pick out Fernandinho, who fired past Cech into the bottom-left corner. Oscar’s late strike proved nothing more than a consolation as Roberto Di Matteo’s side were well beaten in Donetsk.
Di Matteo admitted Willian is a “fantastic player with good qualities” ahead of Tuesday’s game following fresh speculation linking the Brazilian with a move to England. The Blues had a bid rejected for the attacking midfielder back in January while André Villas-Boas was still in charge and the playmaker has since been linked with a move to Tottenham. Ahead of the game, Shakhtar Donetsk boss Lucescu hit out at Chelsea for undervaluing Willian in their pursuit of him last winter. “I would really like them to highly appreciate his true value tomorrow and realise that they made a big mistake,” he said. And Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich may well be tempted to try and lure him to Stamford Bridge again after the 24-year-old’s sparkling display against the Blues on Tuesday. He pulled the strings in Shakhtar’s forward play all night, showing an acute eye for goal but also displaying a superb ability to pick out the perfect pass, releasing Adriano and Henrik Mkhitaryan on numerous occasions.
It was another below-par performance from Fernando Torres at the Donbass Arena as the Spain striker endured a difficult night leading the line. He may have already notched up six goals for Chelsea so far this season but the forward still remains a shell of the player who terrorised defences as he earned a reputation as one of Europe’s top marksmen at Liverpool. His touch was heavy and he often looked completely devoid of ideas when found by his team-mates. He is yet to rediscover that instinctive awareness in front of goal that earned him so many admirers during his prolific spell on Merseyside. Chelsea fans must be sick of the sight of the forward dithering on the ball as chance after chance goes begging. The £50m striker was distinctly average and it was no surprise to see him hauled off and replaced by Daniel Sturridge after 70 minutes following another underwhelming display.
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