Chelsea vs. FC Nordsjaelland: Score, Analysis and Grades
It was a day of firsts at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea's 6-1 victory over FC Nordsjaelland was Rafa Benitez' first as the club's manager, but Juventus' win over Shakhtar Donetsk made the Blues the first team ever to hoist the Champions League trophy and fail to qualify for the knockout stages in the following year.
The story of the first half was a flurry of three penalty kicks that took place within six minutes and were all awarded due to hand balls. Each club missed one opportunity, but David Luiz blasted home the final gift from the referee to give the Blues the lead.
Chelsea doubled their advantage before the break when Fernando Torres calmly collected his own rebound and tapped the ball home.
The second half got off to a thrilling start when Joshua John knocked in Kasper Lorentzen's excellent pass over the Blues back line within one minute of play resuming. But Chelsea's attack responded with a scoring onslaught, and 11 minutes into the second half the Blues held a 4-1 lead.
Chelsea put several exclamation points on this victory, but the day still ended in disappointment due to their Champions League exit.
Juan Mata: A+
Watching Mata play this season has truly been a treat, and he once again came through with a top-class performance. Nearly every one of his touches was perfect, and he added another goal and two more assists in this match.
His skill and vision has been remarkable, even in Chelsea's poorer contests. It is a shame that he will not be playing in any more Champions League matches this season.
Joshua John: B
Nordsjaelland needed their most productive goal-scorer to beat Cech in this game, and he delivered. His goal to start the second half gave the Danish side a brief moment of hope.
While thoughts of a victory faded quickly for John and his club, the striker did his part. He cannot shoulder much blame for the defeat.
Fernando Torres: A-
Torres was lively and active up top for the Blues in this match and he grabbed two goals in the process. Neither was a moment of pure brilliance, but the Spaniard had a fine match nonetheless.
Blues supporters can only hope that this was the beginning of the striker's revival following the reunion with his old manager. But in all likelihood, his two goals were due more to Nordsjaelland's atrocious defending than anything else.
Nordsjaelland Midfield: D
It would be easy to pick on Nordsjaelland's defense as well, but the midfielders were nonexistent in this match. The group failed to create going forward and was sloppy with possession.
The midfielders' true downfall came in their defensive duties, as the Chelsea playmakers were free to work their way into any area of the pitch they pleased. Had the Danish side received a few more tackles in the middle of the pitch, the score would not have been so lopsided.
Eden Hazard: B+
Hazard's missed penalty put a slight damper on his performance, but in open play he was fantastic. Like Mata, he was a constant danger when collecting the ball in the midfield and cut right through Nordsjaelland's defense.
He earned an assist in this match and was yet another Chelsea attacker who impressed.
Both of these clubs failed to qualify for the elimination stage of Champions League. With a 1-0 victory over Shakhtar, Juventus won Group E, and the Ukrainian side advances in second place.
Nordsjaelland took fourth and their European campaign is over, while Chelsea will now head into Europa League.
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