Chelsea thrash Maribor

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Published: Tuesday 21st October 2014 by The News Editor

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Didier Drogba scored his first Chelsea goal since his decisive strike in the 2012 Champions League final as the Premier League leaders thrashed Maribor 6-0 at Stamford Bridge to strengthen their position at the top of Group G.

Drogba, whose final kick of his first spell was the last penalty in the shootout defeat of Bayern Munich which saw Chelsea win the European Cup, replaced Loic Remy after 16 minutes and converted a spot-kick seven minutes later.

The Ivory Coast striker’s 158th Chelsea goal – he netted 157 goals in 341 appearances in his eight-year first spell – made it 2-0 after Remy’s opening strike and captain John Terry swiftly added a third after sprinting the length of the field.

The watching England manager Roy Hodgson would have been impressed, even though Terry’s controversial international career is over, as he watched a number of Slovenia players ahead of next month’s Euro 2016 qualifier.

Mourinho, though, has a right to be concerned ahead of Sunday’s trip to Manchester United as Remy, who started again up front with Diego Costa’s hamstring problem ongoing, scored before going off with an apparent groin problem.

Two of Chelsea’s three front-line strikers are now injured, while the 36-year-old Drogba has only just returned from an ankle problem and is not ready to play 90 minutes.

There were few worries on the night and Agim Ibraimi missed a penalty after Mitja Viler’s own goal had made it four, before Eden Hazard converted a second Chelsea spot-kick 13 minutes from time and added a last-minute sixth with his second of the night.

Chelsea had opened their Group G campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to Schalke, but a 1-0 win at Sporting Lisbon and the thumping of Maribor leaves the Blues in prime position ahead of the November 5 trip to Slovenia.

First up for the Blues, unbeaten this season, is a return to Premier League business at Old Trafford, where Mourinho will come up against his former mentor Louis van Gaal.

Chelsea began with attacking purpose, with Maribor, who advanced to the group stages at Celtic’s expense, playing on the break.

Viler crossed from the left and Damjan Bohar headed over a goal guarded by Petr Cech, starting for the second time this season – and making a third appearance – after being displaced as first choice by Thibaut Courtois.

Kurt Zouma and Filipe Luis – the other two changes from Saturday’s win at Crystal Palace – were either side of Terry in defence and enjoyed a comfortable evening as Chelsea poured forwards.

Remy was unable to beat Jasmin Handanovic from a challenging angle before he gave Chelsea the lead with a more difficult chance.

The France striker received a through ball from Hazard in the right channel, cut inside Marko Suler and on to his left foot before sending a precise shot into the far corner.

He grimaced with pain and felt his groin as he received the congratulations of his team-mates.

Drogba, who had already started warming-up prior to the goal, came on moments later.

Cech saved Ibraimi’s dipping long-range shot as Maribor threatened again, but the visitors were soon two down as Ales Mertelj was adjudged to have handled Willian’s attempted pass.

The midfielder’s arm had been in a natural position as the ball skipped off the turf to hit him, but Dutch referee Danny Makkelie showed no sympathy and neither did Drogba as he converted.

Terry then showed his powers are far from diminishing as, in his 501st appearance as Chelsea captain, he ran the length of the field to score.

Hazard led a counter attack and Terry broke from his own six-yard box after a Maribor corner to convert a Cesc Fabregas cross from inside Maribor’s six-yard box. He may have been offside but there was no flag.

Hazard had an effort saved before Terry was felled by a forearm smash by Ibraimi as the pair tussled for an aerial ball.

Branislav Ivanovic should have scored a fourth after Hazard’s cross was not cleared and Zouma headed straight at Handanovic from Fabregas’ corner on the resumption.

Hazard contrived to fluff a chance after a one-two with Drogba before the Belgian turned Luis’ cross back into the six-yard box and it deflected in off Viler.

Nemanja Matic’s clumsy tackle on Ibraimi gave Maribor a penalty, but the striker struck the outside of the post as the visitors failed to hit the target.

Dominic Solanke replaced Oscar for his Chelsea first-team debut with 18 minutes to go, becoming the second Englishman on the pitch, aged 17 years and 37 days.

The teenager appeared unflustered by the occasion as Chelsea searched for a fifth.

Willian struck the crossbar with a thunderous effort before Ivanovic was fouled by Suler and Hazard tucked in the penalty.

Hazard pulled down substitute Nathan Ake’s lofted ball and thrashed a shot past Handanovic for a sixth to complete a handsome win.

Published: Tuesday 21st October 2014 by The News Editor

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