Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Chelsea win but Jose Mourinho looks for a killer touch

So close: Chelsea's Demba Ba (right) has a shot stopped by Steaua Bucurest goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu

Lacklustre Chelsea secured top spot in Champions League Group E with a 1-0 defeat of Steaua Bucharest in a performance which is unlikely to have European football's elite cowering for cover.

The Blues had already qualified for the last 16 prior to the final match of the group campaign against already-eliminated Steaua, yet Jose Mourinho insisted his side were not contenders for the European Cup this term.

Demba Ba's early goal earned victory over the Romanians, but on this evidence – as well as in the defeats to Basle at home and away – there is much to do if the Blues, the 2012 winners, are going to advance to the latter stages of the competition in the new year.

Mourinho and his players were hit by laser pens from the away end throughout and the Portuguese was at times aghast at the inability of his side to hit the target, either when passing or in front of goal.

Mourinho said: "Normally we have to score more goals and win comfortably and give more emotions for the supporters, but we had the game always under control.

"We had the chances and the dominance and pressed very well, but the second goal did not arrive and the opponents are then always alive.

"Every time we played short and fast finding Eden (Hazard), Willian and Oscar, we had creation speed and intensity, but we did not have enough patience and went back to things from the old days sometimes.

"Now we forget the Champions League until 2014."

The Blues took a 10th-minute lead due to Steaua's shaky defence. Initially it was deemed to be an own goal by Daniel Georgievski, who also found his own net in Bucharest, before Ba was subsequently confirmed as the scorer.

Ba missed a sitter from six yards early in the second half when found by a Willian cross, leaving Mourinho, who has expressed his frustration as his strikers have struggled to score this season, to shrug his shoulders.

In a performance lacking intensity, the dominant Blues could not find a second goal and had to settle for a narrow win, their fourth of the pool, to advance to the knockout stages as group winners.

Chelsea captain John Terry said: "It was okay. We are still improving and can get better for sure.

"It was important for us to top the group tonight, some tough teams have topped the groups."

The former England skipper pointed to Chelsea's inability to kill off games, saying: "It is something we need to work on.

"It is important in games like this home and away we kill off the game."

Of their prospects now, Terry said: "We'll go about our business, we are through now, to top it is a bonus.

"We are quietly confident, we know we have to get better and improve."

With Schalke beating Basel in the group's other game, a first victory in eight attempts in England for Steaua would have toppled Chelsea from top spot.

But in truth, that never looked likely as Mourinho's men got the job done.

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