Chelsea vs Shakhtar Donetsk: Ukrainian Side Still Strong Contenders Despite Loss
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In a wild Champions League Wednesday that saw Spanish giants Barcelona drop three points at Celtic, and Bayern Munich massacre Lille with six goals, Shakhtar Donetsk held their own at Stamford Bridge until the waning seconds of the game.
A literal last-second header by Victor Moses saw Shakhtar drop three points to Chelsea, and thus the lead in the group on goal difference.
Despite the loss, Shakhtar are in prime position to win the group and advance to the elimination rounds.
Chelsea is one of the better sides in UEFA this year, and if Shakhtar can hold their own through two games against them, they can do so against anything the Champions League can throw at them.
With Barcelona and Real Madrid both losing in their group, the aura of a major European club being daunting has vanished. Even with Manchester United sitting undefeated, if a side like Braga can take them to the wire, then they're vulnerable as well.
Group E has quickly turned into the group of death, and an epic final match day could be in the making. With Chelsea and Shakhtar sitting on seven points and Juventus picking up three more for six today, the pivotal matches in the group will be Chelsea at Juventus in two weeks and Juventus at Shakhtar in the final match in December.
Shakhtar should be able to pick up a win against Nordsjælland in a couple of weeks, and be in control of their own destiny against Juventus.
If Chelsea drops Juventus and Shakhtar beats Nordsjælland, then the final for Group E will be nothing more than a rest for the Blues and Ukrainians, as they'll have punched their tickets a couple weeks early.
Will Shakhtar Donetsk make it out of the group?
A disastrous start saw an ill-advised backpass and a poor clearance attempt from Pyatov turn into a gimme for Fernando Torres. Credit Shakhtar's resolve, as they equalized at the foot of Willian just three minutes later.
Willian was a very desired target of Chelsea in the offseason, but Shakhtar chose not to sell, and it's been all the difference for their Champions League campaign thus far.
Another goal keeping howler cost Shakhtar the lead once more, as Andriy Pyatov came off his line to clear a ball some 20 yards out with a poor header. Oscar controlled the ball and sent it sailing over the head of a reeling Pyatov to make the score 2-1.
Moments later, it was Willian to bring the game back level once more. The ball fell to his feet, and he shot it through a crowd and past Petr Cech.
Shakhtar played a magnificent game on the road, all things considered. Chelsea played their best players throughout, and the Ukrainian side matched them every step of the way.
Roberto Di Mateo chose to put on Victor Moses a little more than half way through the second half in place of Oscar. Moses proved to be the super-sub as he headed in a corner in the final seconds of stoppage time, reminiscent of Didier Drogba's late equalizer against Bayern Munich in last season's final.
Despite the loss today, Shakhtar have it all in front of them, and a win at Nordsjælland could be all they need to advance. Regardless, the next month should prove most interesting for Group E, especially if Chelsea draw or lose in Turin.
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