FAB

by Andrew Sherwood

Maccabi Tel Aviv saw their Champions League campaign get off to a losing start as they were comprehensively beaten 4-0 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Maccabi were making their first appearance in the tournament in eleven years, though should have been behind in just the sixth minute when Chelsea were awarded a penalty. Willian was brought down in the box by Maccabi goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic, but Eden Hazard blazed the resulting spot kick over the bar.

The Israelis weren’t on level terms for long though as Willan’s in-swinging free-kick on the quarter-hour mark beat everyone in the box – and the diving grasp of Rajkovic – to bounce straight through into the net.

Eran Zahavi, who’s already scored seven times in the qualifying campaign this season, spurned a glorious chance to draw Maccabi level, when he was left unmarked, eight yards out, but failed to hit the target from Nikola Mitrovic’s superb free-kick. But just as it looked like they’d go into half-time trailing 1-0, Chelsea were awarded another penalty four minutes into stoppage time when Tal Ben Haim, on his return to Stamford Bridge, was adjudged to have brought down Diego Costa. Oscar this time stepped up and sent Rajkovic the wrong way to double their advantage.

The visitors fashioned out another chance early in the second half when Avi Rikan saw his shot deflected inches wide, but within minutes the game was made safe for Chelsea when Costa superbly volleyed home Cesc Fabregas’ cross, and there was still time for the latter to claim their fourth when he tapped the ball into an empty net.

Maccabi will hope to bounce back in their next game, when they host Dynamo Kiev in two weeks’ time.