Juventus hold Chelsea despite Oscar brace
Champions League Group E, Stamford Bridge - Chelsea 2 (Oscar 31, 33) Juventus 2 (Vidal 38, Quagliarella 80)
Oscar scored two goals on his first start for Chelsea but Juventus fought back in a thrilling game at Stamford Bridge as the Blues opened the defence of their Champions League title with a 2-2 draw in Group E.
The 21-year-old, signed from his native Brazil for £25 million this summer, lit up the first half with two goals in the space of two minutes, the brilliant second of which saw him take a clever touch before bending a wonderful shot out of the reach of Gianluigi Buffon.
But the Italian champions showed great spirit to respond through goals from Arturo Vidal on 38 minutes and substitute Fabio Quagliarella with 10 minutes remaining, and could even have won the game when the latter struck the top of the bar with just minutes remaining.
The result certainly represented a point gained for Juve, who with Antonio Conte suspended for 10 months were managed on the evening by Massimo Carrera, while Chelsea were left frustrated by the sloppy piece of play that gifted Juve their second goal and prevented the Londoners from securing an important home win as they attempt to become the first club to retain the trophy in its current guise.
Chelsea - embarking on their 10th consecutive Champions League campaign - made one change from the 0-0 draw with QPR at the weekend as summer signing Oscar was brought into the starting line-up for the first time, replacing Ryan Bertrand. The Brazilian dropped in behind Fernando Torres, the dynamic Eden Hazard to his left and the industrious Ramires providing balance to his right as the Blues sought to extend their unbeaten run in home Champions League group games to 27.
Juventus, currently enjoying a run of 42 games unbeaten in Serie A, encompassing their title success last season, lined up in a familiar 3-5-2 formation, with Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner brought in at wing-back in place of Martin Caceres and Paolo De Cegile. Mirko Vucinic also stepped in as the lone striker as Alessandro Matri dropped to the bench, with the Old Lady hoping to end a surprisingly bad run of six consecutive Champions League defeats in England.
Chelsea's unexpected European triumph last season was built on pragmatism and defensive resolve, but having spent in excess of £80 million on largely attacking talent this summer, it was clear Roman Abramovich wanted something different from his side this season. Chelsea's owner got it in a first half that oozed excitement and quality, with both teams showing admirable attacking intent from the off.
They may have had three international centre-backs on the pitch in Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci, but Juve were unable to prevent David Luiz drifting free from a corner after only four minutes, the Brazilian defender poking a shot at Buffon as Chiellini risked giving away a penalty by dragging John Terry to ground.
Next it was Chelsea's turn to look vulnerable at the back, Claudio Marchisio springing the offside trap and latching onto a long ball over the top from Barzagli before an imperfect first touch allowed Petr Cech to run off his line and block at the feet of the Italy international as he tried to get a shot away. As Juve mounted another break following an awful pass from Branislav Ivanovic, Mirko Vucinic received the ball from Vidal in space but rifled the ball into the side netting when really he should have tested Cech.
Oscar - who attached himself to Pirlo diligently when Juve had the ball - had supplied little in an attacking sense after half an hour but he quickly remedied that when putting Chelsea in front after 31 minutes. Hazard played the ball in square to the young Brazilian, who took a touch 20 yards from goal and saw his firm drive deflected over the diving Buffon by the outstretched leg of Bonucci.
If there was something unsatisfying about his first goal, Oscar certainly redressed the balance with an absolutely brilliant second just two minutes later. Ashley Cole found him with his back to goal with a pass to the edge of the box and Oscar knocked the ball the other side of Pirlo with his first touch before spinning around the Italy star to meet the ball with his second touch and sending a beautiful, intuitive curling shot out of the reach of Buffon and into the top corner.
Pre-eminent in Italy for 12 months, Juve were finding their return to Europe's grandest stage to be a rather traumatic experience, but the scoreline did not reflect the balance of the game and Vidal soon pegged Chelsea back to a one-goal lead before half-time. On 38 minutes the Chile midfielder received a square pass from Marchisio and took a touch to find space 20 yards from goal before sweeping a shot between the legs of Terry and inside the far post.
Chelsea continued in a positive vein in the second half and came close to a third just six minutes in. Ivanovic advanced menacingly down the right and unleashed a dipping drive that appeared destined for the far corner before Buffon threw out his right arm to tip the shot away. The keeper had to be alert two minutes later when punching away a Lampard free-kick that curled viciously at him.
Oscar's performance had overshadowed that of Hazard, rather unusually, but the Belgian had a strong claim for a penalty after 58 minutes. It was eerily similar to the incident in which he failed to win a spot-kick against QPR at the weekend as Barzagli clumsily made contact with him but Hazard exaggerated his fall to the turf.
As Juan Mata came off the bench to curl a shot into the side netting after combining beautifully with Hazard, Chelsea passed up another chance to extend their lead and make the game safe. They paid for it on 80 minutes when another substitute, Quagliarella, drew Juventus level. John Obi Mikel, who had been inattentive all evening, was guilty of a sloppy pass to gift Juve possession and as Terry made a lazy attempt to play offside, the forward was allowed to run onto a pass from Marchisio and calmly slot the ball through the legs of Cech.
Forced to contemplate the loss of two points, Chelsea could even have been subjected to an unfair defeat in the final minutes when Quagliarella took possession of the ball just inside the box and spun quickly before curling a shot onto the top of the bar.
Defeat would have been incredibly harsh on Chelsea, but a draw certainly did not flatter Juventus, who fought back superbly from a two-goal deficit to take a point from the home of the reigning European champions.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Oscar, Chelsea - Just 21 years of age, the Brazilian marked his first start for Chelsea with two goals, the second of which was truly exceptional. Though his all-round game wasn't spectacular, he won the game for Chelsea and the memory of that spin and finish will linger for some time.
Chelsea: Cech 6, Ivanovic 7, Luiz 6, Terry 5, Cole 6, Mikel 5, Lampard 6, Ramires 7, Oscar 8, Hazard 7, Torres 6. SUBS: Bertrand 6, Mata 6.