Champions League review: Porto 1 – 1 Chelsea

Match reports

The Guardian, Matt Scott: “The most important of Andriy Shevchenko’s 10 Chelsea goals came last night, securing a crucial advantage in this tie. But the impact of the match was not overwhelmingly positive. The departure of John Terry with an injury that seems set to rule him out of Sunday’s Carling Cup final against Arsenal may be one that Chelsea have cause to rue. He left the stadium on crutches.”

The Times, Matt Hughes: “José Mourinho has spent much of this season praising his players for surviving in difficult circumstances, but an even greater test of their fortitude is to come. Chelsea needed all their resilience on a stormy night in this harbour city, overcoming the loss of John Terry, their captain, and an early goal to secure a valuable draw courtesy of an equaliser from Andriy Shevchenko.”

Daily Telegraph, John Ley: “Chelsea will benefit not only from the goal but the realisation that Shevchenko is not a £30m dud but still a player of world class.”

The Independent, Jason Burt: “[Shevchenko] scored Chelsea’s precious goal, the 11th and most important of his turbulent career at the club and probably his best. Mourinho said: “Shevchenko was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Fantastic. His effort to be a team player is amazing, his improvement is amazing. Everyone in the team is delighted.””

The goals

The good

  1. The result. Considering the way the game started a 1-1 draw and an away goal is a great result. The tie is by no means over, but we’re odds-on favourites to reach the quarter-finals.
  2. Andriy Shevchenko. Scored his 58th Champions League goal and is now the second highest all-time goal scorer in the history of European club competitions. He’s now ahead of Eusébio and only four behind Gerd Mà¼ller. In the words of Jose Mourinho: “[Shevchenko is] almost untouchable.”
  3. The back four of Lassana Diarra, Michael Essien, Ricardo Carvalho and Wayne Bridge. Diarra is an impressive player, but the plaudits must go to Essien for stepping in to replace John Terry. As Ray Wilkins – whose commentary on Sky made a refreshing change from listening to the usual inanities – said, Essien is “priceless” and “irreplaceable”. Carvalho was his usual magnificent self, and Bridge put in a solid performance at left-back.
  4. Mourinho’s substitutions and tactics. He has few equals when it comes to making the right substitution at the right time. “I made the right decisions on the pitch,” he said afterwards. An understatement if ever there was one.

The bad

  1. The injury to John Terry. He took a knock on his left ankle in training last night; tonight he suffered ligament damage to his right. According to club doctor Bryan English, Terry will not be fit in time for Sunday’s League Cup final against Arsenal.
  2. Four yellow cards of which two – those awarded to Claude Makelele and Petr Cech – were avoidable. Our current injury problems mean it’s vital to have as many of the squad as possible available to play, so players shouldn’t be getting themselves booked for dissent no matter how poor the officiating. The referee was mostly pretty good, but got a bit card happy. At least he didn’t fall for Porto’s theatrics. Which leads me to…
  3. Ricardo Quaresma. Talented no doubt, but a petulant diving cheating git a la Cristiano Ronaldo. A bloody disgrace in fact.
  4. Michael Ballack. I’m going to upset the Ballack fanboys here… but what exactly did he bring to the team tonight? A few poor long range efforts and a couple of good passes… and that was about it.

Man of the Match

The award should probably go to Michael Essien again, or even Lassana Diarra, but instead I’m going to give it to Andriy Shevchenko. A brilliant and crucial strike means he needs just 5 more European goals to beat Gerd Mà¼ller’s tally of 62.

Final thoughts

Just as things looked to be improving the injury jinx strikes again. If Mourinho manages to win either the Premiership or Champions League this season it will probably go down as his greatest achievement given the pressure he’s under to deliver. If there’s one manger who can do it, it’s Mourinho.

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