Chelsea 3 Schalke 0: Three talking points as Eto’o strikes twice
Chelsea 3 Schalke 0: Three talking points as Samuel Eto'o continues his love affair with the Champions League
Eto’o rekindles Champions League love
After two years away from the Europe’s top club competition, Samuel Eto’o has returned to rekindle his love affair with the Champions League. The Cameroon striker has won the competition three times with Barcelona and Inter Milan, and scored two of his 37 goals in finals which his side have gone on to win. Eto’o was in inspired form for Chelsea with two goals against Schalke, forcing another goalkeeping error for the first and finishing coolly for the second. Having caused somewhat of a stir last month against Cardiff by nicking the ball from David Marshall, Eto’o hounded visiting goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand and deflected his clearance into the net. Eto’o’s determination and pace in closing Hildebrand down will have pleased boss Jose Mourinho, but the German goalkeeper should have pumped the ball out earlier. Eto’o’s second goal was less fortunate and more stylish, as he took Willian’s pass delicately before curling a brilliant shot into the corner a minute after Petr Cech saved well from Julian Draxler. With Fernando Torres out with a short term injury, the former Anzhi Makhachkala forward has a chance to build on his impressive performance and stake a claim for a starting berth on a regular basis.
Schalke show tenacity in defeat
Were it not for Hildebrand’s error on half an hour, Schalke may well have been celebrating victory at Stamford Bridge after an commendable performance. The German side began the brighter of the two, as Chelsea showed signs of the same nervousness from Saturday. Young star Julian Draxler slid a shot inches past the post with Cech stranded, while Adam Szalai and Marco Fuchs should have done better with their respective early chances. Egged on by a rousing set of supporters, Schalke out-passed Chelsea for large portions of the match, but were guilty of letting their heads drop after the first goal. They didn’t seem to be able to find the crucial final ball, and after Draxler was forced off with an injury began to be overrun in the middle of the pitch. The Germans should still comfortably qualify from the group, alongside the Blues.
Azpilicueta tidy on the left
If you’re not in the plans of Mourinho, you need to seriously impress to get a chance, and then seize it with both hands. Cesar Azpilicueta is a player who has had to deal with a role on the Chelsea bench after a great first season for the Blues last year, and yet will have given Mourinho plenty to think about with another clinical shift against Schalke. Playing in the uncomfortable left back role, the usually rampant Spaniard looked reserved in his attacking play but solid in his defensive role. For a second consecutive game Azpilicueta kept Draxler under wraps and made some excellent interceptions around his own box, remaining in the backline while Branislav Ivanovic advanced up the pitch on the right hand side. Ashley Cole doesn’t look fully fit and had a tumultuous game on the weekend, so Mourinho may reward the impressive Azpilicueta with a place in the first 11 for their next Premier League game at West Brom.