Champions League: Chelsea round off Group G with comfortable win over Sporting
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 10/12/14 11:43pm
Chelsea maintained their unbeaten run in the Champions League this season with a comfortable 3-1 win over Sporting Lisbon, and in doing so sent the Portuguese side out of the competition.
The Blues players fighting for a regular starting place impressed at Stamford Bridge, with Andre Schurrle and John Obi Mikel getting on the scoresheet after Cesc Fabregas’ opener.
Jonathan Silva had halved the deficit at 2-1 after the break for Sporting, but Marco Silva’s side needed a draw to progress with Schalke getting a result against Maribor in Slovenia.
In a much-changed Chelsea side after their 2-1 defeat by Newcastle on Saturday, 18-year-old Ruben Loftus-Cheek was handed his debut by Jose Mourinho with seven minutes remaining.
Mourinho chose to go with Diego Costa up front despite winning the group on matchday five, with Loftus-Cheek selected on the bench and Petr Cech, Filipe Luis and Mohamed Salah all given starts.
But the new-look XI started well, and were awarded a clear penalty on eight minutes.
Filipe Luis was tripped by Ricardo Esgaio on the corner of the area after the Chelsea defender had nutmegged the Sporting man, and Fabregas stepped up to send Rui Patricio the wrong way for his third Chelsea goal.
The hosts were two up and firmly in control just eight minutes later, with the commanding Nemanja Matic finding Schurrle, who turned well from 20 yards and fired home low into the left corner of the net.
The German has come off the bench seven times in 16 games for Chelsea this season, and put forward a good case to be selected in the Premier League at the expense of Willian.
And he could have had another midway through the first-half, but saw his half-volley saved well by Patricio after Cesar Azpilicueta’s centre.
Chelsea dictated the first half, with Mohamed Salah finding Matic at the edge of the box, only for the midfielder to volley inches wide with Patricio rooted.
Sporting, who needed a draw to progress to the knockout stage at the expense of Schalke, waited 37 minutes before threatening the Chelsea goal.
Diego Capel’s diving header hit the back of Azpilicueta before the Sporting man got up first to the rebound, only for Cech to save well at his feet.
The visitors halved the deficit after the break, with Silva smashing home low to Cech’s right from 15 yards after bringing the ball down on his chest.
Salah went up the other end as Chelsea looked to regain the two-goal lead, but Portuguese No 1 Patricio got his fingertips to the Egyptian’s low drive from the edge of the area.
On 56 minutes the hosts did get their cushion back, with Mikel arriving at the far post to latch onto Gary Cahill’s flick from Fabregas’ cross.
Cech, coming in for first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, did well to stop Islam Slimani’s powerful header, clutching the ball on the line as Sporting players appealed for a goal.
And late on there was a glimpse of Chelsea’s future as midfielder Loftus-Cheek was given his debut for the club by Mourinho on 83 minutes.
Chelsea finished top of their group ahead of Schalke for the second year running, with four wins and two draws seeing them through.
Chelsea: Cech (6); Azpilicueta (6), Zouma (7), Cahill (6), Filipe Luis (6); Mikel (7), Matic (8); Schurrle (8), Fabregas (7), Salah (6); Diego Costa (5).
Subs: Loftus-Cheek (6), Ramires (6) Remy (6)
Sporting Lisbon: Patricio (6), Mauricio (5), Oliveira (6), Jonathan Silva (7), Esgaio (4), Carvalho (6), Mario (5), Adrien Silva (6), Slimani (5), Capel (6), Carrillo (6).
Subs: Martins (6), Montero (5), Mane (6)
Man of the match: Andre Schurrle