Chelsea secured top spot in Champions League Group E with a 1-0 victory over Steaua Bucharest at Stamford Bridge. Demba Ba scored the game’s only goal after 10 minutes, but again it was far from a convincing performance from the Premier League side.
Indeed, Chelsea will be left grateful that they were handed one of the kinder groups having failed to hit top gear throughout, despite amassing 12 points. Claiming top spot should also give Chelsea the advantage of a favorable draw in the Round of 16, but they will have to improve if they are to be a serious factor at the business end of this season’s competition.
Jose Mourinho had spoke in the buildup to the match of his eagerness to get back to winning ways, regardless of its impact on the final standings, after a disappointing run of form that had seen them lose at Stoke City at the weekend, as well as suffering a defeat last time out in the Champions League, at Basel.
And his side fulfilled his wishes, albeit there may be little else for Mourinho to take from their performance against a Steaua side that were already guaranteed to finish bottom of the group.
The home side threatened the visitors’ goal a number of times early on, with David Luiz putting a volley wide from a corner while fellow Brazilian Oscar also put an effort in target. The opening goal was not long in coming.
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A Willian corner from the right was flicked on by Oscar and the ball was bundled in from close range at the back post, with the goal initially being credited to Steaua defender Daniel Georgievski before going down as Ba’s third goal of the campaign.
A golden chance soon fell the Romanian champions’ way to grab an equalizer. Gabriel Iancu was played clean through on goal behind John Terry but the 19-year-old sent a terrible finish off target.
Ba and Eden Hazard failed to take similarly presentable opportunities in the second half as Chelsea were left to accept a narrow win.