Match report: Porto 2 Chelsea 1
News Tue 29 Sep 2015
Chelsea fell to a narrow defeat in our second Champions League group game, losing out to goals either side of half-time despite an excellent Willian free-kick.
We had fallen behind six minutes before the break when Andre Andre volleyed past Asmir Begovic but levelled right on the whistle when Willian curled home his second dead ball in as many games.
Porto went back in front seven minutes into the second half however, and despite plenty of puff the Blues were unable to come back a second time, meaning it is one win and one defeat from our opening two games in Group G.
Jose Mourinho opted to recall Diego Costa, whose suspension only applies in domestic games, in attack, with Cesc Fabregas in the No10 role flanked by Pedro on the right and Willian on the left. In-form Ramires replaced Nemanja Matic in central midfield alongside John Mikel Obi.
Oscar, Loic Remy and Falcao did not travel while Eden Hazard was among the substitutes with John Terry. Branislav Ivanovic continued with the armband in an unchanged back five.
Asmir Begovic was called into action early, his palms stung by Porto’s Yacine Brahimi, while at the other end Iker Casillas, setting a Champions League appearance record, had to dive to his right to keep out a crisp drive from Fabregas.
The Porto goalkeeper was busy again after 13 minutes, denying another of his Spanish compatriots when Pedro latched onto an incisive Willian pass but shot too straight, allowing Casillas to block with his legs.
Porto responded with a period of pressure but Chelsea’s defence looked solid, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta each making telling blocks while Vincent Aboubakar shot high and wide after wriggling free in the area.
Bruno Martins Indi and Ivan Marcano were booked in quick succession for a pair of heavy challenges on Chelsea attackers, and from the free-kick which followed the second, Cahill headed Fabregas’s free-kick back across goal but narrowly wide.
There was impressive play from both sides going forward, Fabregas, Diego Costa and Aboubakar all showing tidy footwork in tight areas, but neither side had fashioned a clear-cut opportunity since Pedro’s one-on-one.
That changed six minutes before the break when Brahimi cut inside and fashioned a shooting opportunity which Begovic did well to parry, but Andre Andre reacted quickest and volleyed the rebound beyond the Bosnian international to give the home side the lead.
Porto must have felt it was a good time to score, six minutes before the break, but Chelsea responded quickly and emphatically.
Ramires dribbled into dangerous territory and was cut down on the edge of the area. Willian duly took the ball and curled home his third free-kick of the season, leaving Casillas rooted to the spot.
That was to be the last act of an entertaining end-to-end first period, and the Blues were deservedly on level terms.
Parity unfortunately did not last long however, with the hosts reclaiming the lead seven minutes into the second half.
Maicon stole free at a corner, and stopped to head low inside an unguarded near post past the helpless Begovic. It was not the solid restart Mourinho would have demanded from his men.
Diego Costa almost immediately drew us level again, but his wickedly bending effort bounced down off the crossbar and out to safety.
The noise levels inside the Estadio do Dragao were on the up with every touch by a home player cheered. The home crowd almost had cause for more celebration when their side burst into the Chelsea area again but good defending by the combination of Ivanovic and Ramires cleared the danger.
Hazard was introduced just after the hour mark as Mourinho looked to inject some more creativity. He immediately stepped into the No10 position with Fabregas dropping deeper. The change almost had an instant impact.
Fabregas and Pedro robbed possession in Porto’s half, with the latter slipping a well-weighted ball between full-back and defender for Hazard to run onto, the Belgian just forced a little wide and in the end shooting into the side netting.
It was a promising move though, and Chelsea’s first real opportunity of the second half.
Porto almost went further ahead again, only a last-ditch Cahill tackle denying Aboubakar a simple finish, while a deflected effort then had Begovic scrambling. With the pressure cranked up further, the Bosnian had to deny Brahimi with a stunning save at close range.
Mourinho made two further changes, introducing Kenedy and Matic as the game entered its final 20 minutes.
A swift counter brought Chelsea a corner from which we nearly levelled. Ivanovic climbed highest to meet Willian’s centre, but his header was just wide.
Back in the Chelsea box with 10 minutes remaining Danilo’s header came back out off the post with Begovic beaten.
A series of home substitutions were serving to slow the game down and break up Chelsea’s momentum, making chances harder and harder to come by.
Matic shot high and wide as the clock ticked down, we had a penalty appeal for handball waved away and then right at the death a scramble inside the Porto area saw Kenedy stretch to shoot, only for the ball to be deflected away.
It means our frustrating start to the domestic campaign has now crept into our European form too, but with four games to play and arguably our hardest fixture now out of the way, there remains plenty of reasons for confidence.
We host Southampton on Saturday when we return to Premier League action.
Porto (4-4-1-1): Casillas, Maxi Pereira, Maicon, Marcano, Martins Indi; André (Layun 80), Danilo, Rúben Neves (Evandro 78), Imbula; Brahimi (Osvaldo 86); Aboubakar.
Unused subs: Helton, Corona, Tello, Bueno.
Booked Martins Indi 19, Marcano 25
Goals Andre 39, Maicon 52
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Ivanovic (c), Zouma, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Mikel (Hazard 62), Fabregas; Ramires (Matic 73), Willian, Pedro (Kenedy 73); Diego Costa.
Unused subs: Blackman, Terry , Baba, Loftus-Cheek.
Booked Cahill 41, Azpilicueta 66, Matic 79
Goals Willian 45
Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain)