An impressive Shakhtar Donetsk side inflicted our first Champions League defeat under Roberto Di Matteo, scoring early in each half.
Oscar pulled a goal back close to the end but there could little complaint about the result on a night when Petr Cech was by far the busier goalkeeper. Better Chelsea chances came in the second-half before the Oscar goal, Juan Mata and John Mikel Obi both clearing the crossbar, but the home team continued to look dangerous on the counter-attack and it will need a good performance to take points from them at Stamford Bridge in a fortnight’s time.
The outlook would have looked dimmer had it not been for Juventus’s 1-1 draw in Denmark tonight meaning the Italians have yet to win in the group and Chelsea only drop to second.
Roberto Di Matteo freshened up the side with two personnel changes. In came the captain and vice-captain, Gary Cahill making way for John Terry and Frank Lampard back alongside John Mikel Obi with Ramires moving to the wide right position and Eden Hazard on the bench.
Shakhtar selected four Brazilians in an unchanged line-up from their previous Champions League outing. Willian and Alex Texeira flanked highly rated Armenian Henrik Mkhitaryan as the three players behind lone striker Luiz Adriano.
Results across the group in the first couple of round of matches meant Chelsea knew we needed something from this game if qualification for the knockout stages wasn’t to become tricky. The last thing we needed was to give the Ukrainians an early boost but Shakhtar scored with their very first attack.
There was a throw-in from the left and an initial shot by Luiz Adriano that Terry was able to block, but the ball ran unkindly – latched upon inside the area by Teixeira who had a relatively simple task in rolling it into the net. There were less than three minutes gone.
Oscar combined with Torres and shot but it was too tame as the visitors tried to muster a quick response. Ramires did very well to dispossess Rat and Torres initially slipped the ball outside of one defender but there was a covering Shakhtar player who snuffed out the danger.
It was Chelsea enjoying more possession for a spell but then on 15 minutes Shakhtar sprung forward at speed, as they would do on several occasions later on. A ball was initially threaded through the middle to Mkhitaryan before Willian accelerated to the edge of the area and fired over. Space for the attack had been helped by an injury to Lampard whose 100th European game for Chelsea was a short one. He was on the turf and soon walked off to be replaced on 17 minutes by Hazard.
Oscar remained as the more central of the attacking midfielders and he was almost played through by Ramires but the keeper was quick enough out to deal with it. He then took a cross from Ivanovic in front of Torres and was pulled by Cole as he tried to release the ball quickly, at the expense of a booking for the Chelsea left-back.
The home side were finding a worrying amount of space when they attacked and Willian, who was seeing plenty of the ball shot again, this time Cech saving well within his capabilities.
On 24 minutes Hazard hit a first time pass to Oscar who momentarily looked to have played the ideal pass up to Torres, but again keeper Pyatov was quick enough to knock the ball out of the Spaniard’s path. Shakhtar countered in a flash and it needed Terry with an admirable recovery and clearance to kill the attack. Mkhitaryan then shot with power but straight at Cech.
It was Chelsea’s turn to attack and Mikel and Oscar exchanged passes and the Brazilian sprinted inside the Shakhtar area but couldn’t find a blue shirt with his cross. Then just past the half hour he showed vision with a pass over the top to Torres who appeared to take a touch too strong as he ran onto it.
On 37 minutes, Cech was in action again, tipping over from Mkhitaryan after Cole had initially done well to impede the attack. The corner that followed proved difficult to clear. After another corner a minute later our keeper was at his best to keep the ball out when his compatriot and friend Tomas Hubschmanturned in goalwards from only a couple of yards out.
Chelsea possession in or around the Shakhtar box was becoming increasingly rare, Torres hooked a difficult cross at the keeper an exception. It had been hard to see where a Chelsea goal would come from in that opening 45 minutes.
Four minutes after the restart, Chelsea did look incisive in the attack, Hazard pushing forward and opting not use Cole’s lung-bursting run inside him, instead picking out Mata in the middle who unfortunately shot over.
We were looking beginning to look better than the first half which made the mistakes that led to Shakhtar’s second goal all the more infuriating. Mikel only just held onto possession in a tight spot inside the Chelsea half and when Ramires knocked the ball deeper to Hazard, he was dispossessed. The Blues defence was outnumbered and Luiz Adriano found Fernandinho in space to score with a shot across Cech. There were 51 minutes played.
Ramires tried to get a recovery going with a 25-yard attempt that tested Pyatov as much as any so far, and one of Mata’s brighter moments led to a cross that Torres just failed to reach when closely marked by two defenders.
Mata then spotted Torres making a run down the inside right corridor but the out-of-sorts centre-forward crossed into the keeper’s hands.
Torres was successful in flicking on Mata’s 67th minute corner but Mikel, who spun on to it couldn’t keep a very difficult volley down.
It had been a while since Shakhtar had pressured the Chelsea goal and when they did once more, the well-placed Fernandinho shot wide.
Sturridge replaced Torres with 69 minutes played but the next two shots were from Mkhitaryan, both saved by Cech. Then Luiz Adriano’s header across goal bounced odd Hubschman and only just wide of the post.
All Chelsea’s attacks were through Hazard but on three occasions he didn’t have answer to how to beat Pyatov. David Luiz was booked for a foul on Willian, Olexandr Kucher having earlier been cautioned for the home side. Hubschman followed suit for a muscular challenge on Ramires.
Hope came with three minutes of normal time left on the clock, Ivanovic the creator with a powerful drive into the box and pull-back that Oscar turned in from close-range.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, David Luiz, JT (c) Cole; Mikel, Lampard (Hazard); Ramires, Oscar, Mata; Torres (Sturridge 69).
Unused subs Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Bertrand, Romeu..
Scorer Oscar 87.
Booked Cole 21, David Luiz 79.
Shakhtar (4-2-3-1): Pyatov; Srna (c), Kucher, Rakitskiy, Rat; Fernandinho, Hübschman; Teixeira (Ilsinho 81), Mkhitaryan, Willian (Douglas Costa 87); Luiz Adriano.
Unused subs Kanibolotskiy, Kryvstov, Stepanenko, Gai, Eduardo.
Scorers Teixeira 2, Fernandinho 51.
Booked Kucher 66, Hubschman 85.
Referee Damir Skomina from Slovenia.