Last-gasp winner from Moses ensures Chelsea's destiny remains in their own hands
Chelsea 3 Shakhtar Donestk 2:Chelsea’s style may have shifted but the sense of destiny they harnessed in this competition last term remains very much intact. This game had edged beyond the allocated period of added time at the end, the holders’ grip on the trophy apparently loosened, when the substitute Victor Moses rose unchallenged to nod in Juan Mata’s corner and wrest back some measure of control in the group. Roberto Di Matteo can breathe again.
Moses’s impact felt all the more staggering given it was so unlikely. Shakhtar Donetsk had revelled here like visitors rarely do, their flamboyance extending the holders to their limits, but they were still defeated at the last. Chelsea are joint top of the group and, should they avoid defeat to Juve away in a fortnight, destiny will remain in their own hands.
Shakhtar were a blur of tangerine shirts pouring through their hosts at times and Ryan Bertrand, deputising for Ashley Cole, endured a torrid night.
Fernandinho’s dart to the byline, away from Ramires and Bertrand, and astute pull-back to be dispatched by the impressive Willian for Shakhtar’s early equaliser confirmed their attacking quality.
This cancelled out Chelsea’s opener from Fernando Torres after goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov’s attempt to clear early on from Yaroslav Rakitskiy’s unhelpful back-pass rebounded into the net off the Spaniard.
But it was Oscar who truly illuminated the Londoners.
Pyatov might have been content with his seemingly decisive header to clear Mata’s optimistic cross at a Chelsea counterattack five minutes from the break. The ball flew to Oscar, emerging from the centre circle, but the youngster swiftly spied the goalkeeper’s momentum had carried him further out of his box. The finish, conjured from 40 yards, arced gloriously over the Ukrainian and in.
That magical strike was utterly in keeping with the helter-skelter nature of the contest, both teams so forward thinking that any semblance of defence felt like an afterthought.
The second period had barely begun when Willian, Fernandinho and the marauding Croat Darijo Srna sliced through their hosts’ left flank yet again and Willian, courted by the Londoners back in January, cooly steered his side level yet again.
The woodwork was left quivering as Razvan Rat belted a half-volley from distance that curled on to the outside of the post with Cech beaten.
Few teams have been able to shred Chelsea this impressively at their home in recent years.
The holders poured forward, but the Spanish official waved away vehement appeals for a penalty as Srna y checked Ramires’s dart into the penalty box and Mikel John Obi volleyed just wide before Moses’s wonderfully timely intervention. This is a new Chelsea team, but the old spirit remains.