It was quite an exciting first half to Champions League Matchday 3 yesterday. We watched at Woodwork again, which was nicely mellow, with 3 different matches on their 3 screens–from left to right: Shakhtar-Chelsea, Juve-Nordaelland, and Barcelona-Celtic, with the house sound system tuned to the Barça match for the first half, and the Juve match for the 2nd. (One Manchester United fan showed up too late to claim a TV, and so was reduced to streaming the match against Braga on his laptop.)
For a while it looked like we were headed towards upsets at the Camp Nou, at Old Trafford, and at Nordsjælland. But while the “big” club escaped in each of those matches (although Juve only with a point, thanks to a fantastic late goal by Vucinic), our attention was primarily on the Shakhtar-Chelsea match, and out in far eastern Ukraine the upset held. As the Mirror cheekily put it, it was “A Shaktar the system: Champions Chelsea outclassed and outplayed in Donetsk.”
And although yesterday was good, today just might be better. Of the eight remaining Matchday 3 fixtures, the ones to watch, IOHO, are Arsenal-Schalke, Málaga-Milan, and of course the two matches in the Group of Death—Ajax-Man City and Borussia Dortmund-Real Madrid this time around:
But back to Shakhtar-Chelsea. Shakhtar’s Brazilian carnival was in full effect, with Luis Adriano, Alex Teixeira, Fernandinho, and especially Willian all influential and scintillating going forward. The prose of that Mirror match report is as colorful as the headline–and spot on:
Chelsea chose not to meet Shaktar’s £25million asking price for Willian last January – and here the Brazilian orchestrated his revenge. He may have a perm visible from space, but Chelsea never knew where he was, a superb blend of precision, pace and subtlety standing out as Chelsea’s much-vaunted attacking game simply failed to materialise.
The Ukrainians’ boys from Brazil were joined in attack by the young Armenian Henrik Mkhitaryan. Indeed, Jonathan Wilson was spot on as well in highlighting Mkhitaryan earlier this week as a player to watch–he was unlucky not to add to Shakhtar’s total, popping up in the right places at the right times for multiple good chances on goal (though too many of his shots ended up going straight at Cech).
Shakhtar’s first (3′!) goal was created by a Luis Adriano shot that was blocked but fell to and was finished by Alex Teixeira, and (we might as well outsource commentary on the rest of the match to the Mirror’s report, since their guy writes better than I do, and was probably paying closer attention, since mine was often pulled away not only by the other matches on display, but also by trying to read some linear algebra–specifically the
the “Invertible Matrix Theorem“–good stuff):
…had Cech not clawed away a rising drive by Armenian Henrik Mkhitaryan and then somehow turned aside a point-blank effort by fellow-Czech Tomas Hubschman after a dreadful half-clearance by Oscar, they would have been dead and buried by half-time.
In the event, they were seven minutes after the restart. Hazard was more worried about the ankle he had just turned when he was caught in possession in the centre-circle by Fernandinho. The punishment was instant and severe, Luis Adriano driving to the edge of the box, committing both Luiz and Terry before slipping to his right where Fernandinho’s finish was as accurate and emphatic as his fellow Brazilian had been earlier.
It could have been worse, too, Cech denying Mkhitaryan once again, Fernandinho twice a couple of yards wide from the edge of the box, anxiety enveloping Chelsea every time Willian got on the ball and his colleagues sprinted into dangerous areas.
For a less colorful and more cebrebral analysis of the match than the Mirror’s, see ZonalMarking: “Shakhtar 2-1 Chelsea: Shakhtar attack with pace and forward bursts from Fernandinho and Srna.”
Finally, we can’t rightly leave you without a photo of Willian’s fantastic hair: