MIKEL SUSPENDED

The Football Association has today (Thursday) issued a statement regarding a three-match suspension for John Mikel Obi.

The statement reads:

Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel has been given a three-match suspension to begin with immediate effect and fined £60,000 following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing today [Thursday 6 December 2012].

Mikel had requested a personal hearing after admitting an FA charge of using threatening and/or abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour.

The breach of FA Rule E3 was in relation to an incident which occurred in the match official’s changing room at the end of Chelsea’s fixture against Manchester United on 28 October 2012.

The Regulatory Commission’s independent chairman Christopher Quinlan QC emphasised that the Independent Regulatory Commission accepted, as did The FA, that at the time he threatened the referee the player genuinely believed that the referee had racially abused him.

But for that factor the suspension would have been significantly longer.

Subsequently The FA investigated the allegation that the referee racially abused the player and found that there was not a case for him to answer.

CHELSEA TV HEADLINES: OUT IN THE COLD

The club’s in-house channel brings the latest news from Stamford Bridge following last night’s elimination from the Champions League.

The squad was back in training at a frosty Cobham this morning, and you will be able to hear more from the training ground from 6.30pm on Chelsea TV’s Blues News.

DAVID LUIZ: NO TIME FOR TEARS

David Luiz says we must quickly recover from our Champions League disappointment if we are to return to the competition next season.

The defender opened the scoring with a well-placed penalty last night as we dismantled Nordsjaelland in style, eventually thumping in six goals for the first time in a Champions League fixture. It proved fruitless though, as Shakhtar’s defeat to Juventus in Donetsk saw us eliminated despite accumulating a respectable 10 points.

‘We are disappointed, big clubs should be playing in big games. We won the Champions League last season, this time we are out of the group and it is a little bit sad,’ said the defender.

‘It’s not a shock, we are fighting with big clubs and the Champions League is not a small competition. Man City came out as well, this is the best [competition] in the world, so you know you need to work hard in every game to qualify.

‘The key game was at home to Juventus. We were 2-0 up and conceded two goals, it was a bad game and it killed us in the group.

‘It is sad but football is quick and in two days we have another match against Sunderland, so we need to be ready for the next games, not spend three or four days crying. Saturday is a difficult game and we need to win.

‘Chelsea need to play in the Champions League every year and we have this in our heads.’

The Brazilian is one of life’s optimists, and sees an opportunity in the Europa League to salvage pride from our European campaign.

‘The Europa League is glamorous for me because I don’t have this title, so I want to win it.I look now to that, and want to win it,’ he said.

‘Playing Thursdays and Sundays is okay. I prefer playing games than training, so if you had games every day I’d prefer it. Of course sometimes we might be a little tired but you have to rest when you have time, eat well and so in the games you can run for 90 minutes at the right level.’

I the shorter term, there are still improvements to be made under Rafael Benitez, but David Luiz believes the signs were good on Wednesday evening.

‘It was a great game from all the players with intensity quality and we scored more goals, so this is good for the future.

‘We have a new coach and philosophy and the quicker we get used to it the better for the team.’

FINAL WHISTLE VERDICT: OUT BUT OPTIMISTIC

Having begun the evening knowing nothing could be done to keep Chelsea in the Champions League should Juventus get the right result in Ukraine, Rafael Benitez concentrated on his own team’s performance as he later reflected on our exit from the competition.

After Petr Cech had done his bit to prevent a stumble by saving a Nordsjaelland penalty when the score was 0-0, Chelsea cruised to a 6-1 win, our highest goal tally in the Champions League. We even had the luxury of missing a penalty of our own, with David Luiz, Fernando Torres, Gary Cahill and Juan Mata successfully finding the net.

Benitez described the mood in the home dressing room following the game…

‘If we had won just 1-0 or 2-1 then maybe the players will only think it is a pity, but at the moment we can see they are not happy but there is also the feeling they did well today, suggesting the future can be good,’ he said.

‘The game between Shakhtar and Juventus was out of our hands so we had to do our job and as a manager I have to be really pleased with the performance of the team – 32 attempts, 18 on-target, six goals and a lot of clear chances. You have to think about the positives but you have to be really disappointed because you cannot progress in the Champions League.

‘It is always important to win but more than just winning was the way we won – and we saw character, commitment, intensity, chances and good play. Everything you are looking for.

‘I am sure that playing at the level we played today we can do whatever we want, but we have to start with the next game.’

On Fernando Torres returning to scoring ways with two goals…
‘The team played well and I said before if the team plays well Torres will score goals.

‘Yesterday I was watching him in the training session and he was little bit sharp with more confidence, and today he was fine and the rest of team was also helping because we were playing good football with intensity.

‘Torres showed his desire and his quality and if we can play at this level he can score more goals.’

On the attitude to the Europa League which we now go into…
‘The Europa League is not important if you don’t win it but when you are in the semi-final or the final everyone wants to win, so we want to go as far as we can.

‘Every competition is important for us so we will try to do our best and try to challenge and win it if we can.’

MATCH REPORT: CHELSEA 6 FC NORDSJAELLAND 1

Summary

A record Champions League victory, complete with some sparkling football, was not enough to see us through to the Champions League knockout stages.

The fact Juventus won at Shakhtar Donetsk means we finish third in Group E, and will now take part in the reformatted Europa League for the first time.

It renders an impressive display at Stamford Bridge relatively meaningless, though we did for the first time score six in a Champions League fixture, with goals coming from a David Luiz penalty after both sides had already missed from the spot, two from Fernando Torres, who had not scored in a month, and one apiece from Gary Cahill, Juan Mata and Oscar, following four goals in 20 second-half minutes after Nordsjaelland had pulled one back immediately from the kick-off.

The result brings a first win for Rafael Benitez, but the night will be remembered as the one the previous season’s Champions League winners bowed out for the first time at the group stage.

Team news

David Luiz, suspended for the weekend defeat at West Ham, returned to central defence alongside Cahill, as Branislav Ivanovic switched to right-back.

That meant no place for Cesar Azpilicueta, who was on the bench, while Oriol Romeu replaced John Mikel Obi in midfield. The front four was unchanged, with Victor Moses keeping his place ahead of Oscar.

Ashley Cole was playing the 100th Champions League game of his career.

First half

As much as we needed the result in Donetsk to go our way, there was a job to be done at home too. Failure to qualify for the knockout stages would be one thing, but failure to beat the group’s weakest side at the Bridge quite another.

The early stages were interrupted with an injury to Nordsjaelland’s Ivan Runje, but when it resumed Chelsea looked dangerous, first when Moses’s powerful volley was saved at the near post by the visiting keper Jesper Hansen, and then after Fernando Torres had burst into the box and fired hard and low.

Hansen then saved from David Luiz before the defender was forced to divert the ball behind at the other end, only for the Blues to break as Torres brought the ball forward and played in Juan Mata, whose square ball was diverted goalwards by Eden Hazard, the goalkeeper once again able to save.

It was certainly entertaining as Chelsea sought to bring some warmth to a bitterly cold London evening.

Romeu, Hazard and Mata all combined and almost played in Torres, before Moses squared across goal and Nordsjaelland captain Nicolai Stokholm diverted over via his own crossbar.

The away side were riding their luck, and they were given a huge boost on the half-hour when Cahill was adjudged to have handled inside the area. There was little the defender could do, though his arm was raised, yet repays showed he had been outside the penalty area.

Stokholm stepped up, and sent the kick to Petr Cech’s right, but not many spot kicks seem to beat our number one these days, and he pushed it away to safety.

Three minutes later and we had a penalty of our own, Cahill winning it this time as sub Mikkel Beckmann was penalised for handball. Hazard claimed the ball, and confidently placed it low to the keeper’s left, but Hansen guessed right and was able to save.

Staggeringly, five minutes later we were awarded another penalty as Beckmann blocked Mata’s drive with his hand, and this time David Luiz took responsibility, and fired high into the top corner of the net.

For all the showmanship and enterprising play of the first half, it had taken a penalty to put us ahead.

The wait for a second would not be a long one, coming in first-half injury time as Moses threaded Torres through, and the striker tapped into an empty net after Hansen had saved his initial effort.

Chelsea looked well in control, but Shakhtar and Juventus were still level out in Ukraine.

Second half

Nobody in west London would have predicted what happened at the start of the second period, as within 20 seconds Nordsjaelland struck back, left-winger Joshua John latching on to Kasper Lorentzen’s lofted pass to clip over Cech and into the net.

The goalkeeper will be frustrated at losing his clean sheet but concern for the result did not last long, as Cahill leapt high to head an inswinging Mata free-kick into the corner of the net just moments later, restoring the two-goal lead.

The goals kept coming.

The lead became three five minutes later, as Hazard progressed down the left, as he had done numerous times already, and got to the bye-line, squaring for Torres to prod home a fourth of the night, and a second for himself.

Then Ramires won possession as Nordsjaelland tried to break, and with the Danes low on numbers at the back, the Brazilian fed Mata who drove forward, exchanged passes with Hazard and shot, seeing his first effort hit Hansen’s leg before firing in the rebound. If the Blues were going out, we were going to do so with a show.

Mata was gifted possession midway inside the away side’s half, and he was able to instinctively pick out substitute Oscar’s run, and the Brazilian made no mistake as he side-footed past the keeper and into the bottom corner. Celebrations, however, were subdued, with the news having filtered through that Juventus had taken the lead in Donetsk.

Mata was brought off to rapturous applause after another night of playmaking perfection, and the change saw Paulo Ferreira introduced, with perhaps more interestingly David Luiz pushed forward into midfield alongside Romeu, who had been faultless all evening.

Torres might have had a penalty after being bundled over inside the area while Oscar’s drive was tipped over by Hansen and David Luiz looped a free-kick just too high as Chelsea looked for more. Already we had scored a club record number of Champions League goals in one night.

Torres and Mata combined with a rabona and a back flick to work Hansen some more, but that was the end of the excitement, and a fine display was met with applause, but an overall feeling of disappointment at the final whistle.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech (c); Ivanovic, David Luiz, Cahill, Cole (Bertrand 59); Romeu, Ramires (Oscar 64); Hazard, Mata (Ferreira 73), Moses; Torres.

Unused subs Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Mikel, Marin.

Goals David Luiz (pen) 37, Torres 45+1, 55, Cahill 50, Mata 62, Oscar 70
Booked David Luiz

Nordsjaelland (4-4-2): Hansen; Ticinovic (Issah 64), Parkhurst, Runje (Beckmann 9), Mtiliga; Stockholm (c)Adu, Christiansen (Kildentoft 60); Gundelach, Lorentzen, John;

Unused subs Jensen, Maxso, Laudrup, Lindberg.

Goals John 46
Booked Parkhurst,Mtiliga

Referee Bas Nijhuis from Holland
Attendance 40,084