Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-4 Chelsea: Dominant performance edges Blues towards qualification

Chelsea had some problems at the beginning on both halves but in the end there were no doubts about their affair against Maccabi Tel Aviv, as they won 4-0.

A first-half goal from Gary Cahill and a red card shown to Tal Ben Haim paved the way for Jose Mourinho's team, and they broke free in the second half where Willian, Oscar and Kurt Zouma all found the back of the net. The win puts Chelsea at the top of the standings and, they have it in their own hands to reach the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League.

Maccabi surprise early on...

Against all odds it was Maccabi who started better. The hosts played the initial minutes with a lot of pace and they took advantage of Chelsea's shaky defensive line in the early going. A header from close range and an individual play from Eran Zahavi were the initial signs that Maccabi wasn't going to let the game slip away so easily.

Mourinho's team, however, settled quite nicely after the first 10 minutes. Eden Hazard started to make things happen on the left wing and the pair of Oscar and Cesc Fabregas began to control the middle of the pitch.

...but Chelsea strike first

Chelsea's dominance continued and a good attacking run from the Brazilian created a corner and after Willian sent the ball into the box, Cahill nodded the ball home but when the keeper parried it away, he captured the rebound and fired it home to put the Blues up 1-0.

Maccabi tried to react but it was clear they didn't have enough to pose a threat against Chelsea's defensive line. The English side, on the other hand, opted to drop a bit deeper to counter attack and they excelled in that role although they weren't sharp in the final stage of the pitch. Diego Costa produced some interesting movements and Willian also came close to scoring with a free kick, but Maccabi's goalkeeper was brilliant to intervene every time he had the chance.

The hosts' road would become steeper in the final minutes of the first half since Ben Haim was sent off with a straight red card following a vicious foul against Costa. As a result, the first 45 minutes ended with a 1-0 lead for a Chelsea that would also play with one more player in the second half.

Chelsea struggle early in the second half

Contrary to what it might have been expected, Chelsea weren't able to close the game out even though they had some decent chances. There was no secret in the fact that Mourinho's boys were comfortably controlling the possession but Maccabi were posing quite a threat on the counter.

Cesar Azpilicueta was pretty close to find the back of the net in the 61th minute but his effort was denied by Predrag Rajkovic. On the counter, a long ball found Zahavi who blasted a ball from inside the box but Asmir Begovic was stunning to deny the equaliser to the home side.

Mourinho opted to make some changes to his lineup as Pedro Rodriguez replaced Eden Hazard - who disappeared from the pitch in the second half - but the former Barcelona winger was unable to make an impact as he was often tightly marked by the opposing defenders.

Terry goes off injured

Chelsea was forced to take off John Terry in the 72nd minute as the skipper left the pitch with an apparent muscular injury. The Blues, however, managed to take something positive out of that sequence as Willian blasted an impressive free kick into the bottom right corner to give them a two-goal lead with less than 20 minutes on the clock.

Oscar put the nail in the coffin in the 77th minute with a strong header from close range following a perfect cross from Abdul Baba.

The final minutes of the game weren't very intense since the match was decided after Willian's goal. Maccabi didn't have enough in them to mount a possible comeback and Chelsea didn't want to take too many risks, instead opting to sit back a bit to protect their lead but they managed to add a final goal on stoppage time thanks to a header from Kurt Zouma.

Up next

Chelsea's win certifies their position as one of the two teams to advance to the Round of 16 but they will have to decide their fate in the final matchday against FC Porto at Stamford Bridge. Maccabi Tel Aviv has lost all of their five games but they will have one final chance to get points when they will face against Dynamo Kyiv in Ukraine.