Substitute Victor Moses scored a dramatic stoppage-time goal as Chelsea clinched a crucial 3-2 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in a pulsating Champions League Group E encounter at Stamford Bridge.
Fernando Torres gave the hosts the lead in just the sixth minute courtesy of a clearance straight at him from goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov, but Shakhtar were level minutes later through the imperious Willian.
Oscar restored Chelsea’s lead with a sublime long-range volley, only for Willian to again draw the visitors level with a well-worked goal, but substitute Moses was on hand to head home in the fourth minute of stoppage time to grab all three points for Roberto Di Matteo’s side and send the home fans into delirium.
It was only Chelsea’s second victory in six Champions League matches as they ended Shakhtar’s 37-game unbeaten run in all competitions, with the result leaving the Blues level at the top of Group E with seven points, one ahead of Juventus, who beat FC Nordsjaelland 4-0.
John Terry was confined to the bench as Di Matteo gambled Chelsea's Champions League future on David Luiz and Gary Cahill at the back while Ryan Bertrand replaced the injured Ashley Cole; Shakhtar, meanwhile, named the same XI that dominated the Premier League side in the reverse fixture two weeks earlier.
Cahill came close to putting Chelsea in front as early as the fifth minute as Luiz drove a fierce free-kick straight to Pyatov, but it dipped and bounced awkwardly with the defender not quite able to turn in the rebound as the keeper threw himself to the ground to smother the loose ball.
A minute later, Chelsea had taken the lead. A woeful backpass from Oleksandr Kucher led to Pyatov clearing the ball into Torres, with the ball bouncing off the forward and into an empty net. Despite not knowing much about it, it was the Spaniard’s 18th Champions League goal, and fourth in a Chelsea shirt.
But the hosts’ lead lasted all of three minutes as Willian, reported to be a Chelsea target, equalised with a composed side-footed finish to beat captain Petr Cech after an incisive run and cut back from Luiz Adriano down the right. Shakhtar have now scored in all five of their European away games in England, and they deserved early parity.
The best was still to come in a pulsating first half as Pyatov raced way off his line to intercept a pass from Juan Mata, but could only clear to Oscar, who showed typical poise to chest the ball down, before unleashing a stunning volley over the keeper and into the net from fully 30 yards. It was the Brazilian’s fourth goal in as many Champions League matches.
Seconds later, Oscar drove a fierce shot on target from the edge of the penalty area, with Pyatov only able to tip the ball just over the crossbar, and Chelsea went into the break with a slender lead in an engrossing match of real attacking quality.
But within two minutes of the restart, Shakhtar had drawn level once more, and it was another goal of supreme class: Willian found a crisp first-time finish from inside the box to bag his brace after fine work from Darijo Srna outwide on the right, with Chelsea’s defence carved open once more.
Shakhtar came inches from taking the lead just before the hour mark as Razvan Rat struck the post with a fierce low shot from 25 yards out, with Cech comprehensively beaten and left flat-footed by the effort, and Di Matteo was suddenly an anxious presence on the touchline.
John Obi Mikel was convinced that he had scored Chelsea’s third goal of the night as he ghosted in at the back post to bundle the ball home from Mata's exquisite delivery, but his celebrations were ended abruptly as the offside flag went up.
Chelsea were then left incensed in the 74th minute as Eden Hazard released Ramires, who skipped in behind Srna, before appearing to be brought down by the Shakhtar skipper, but referee Carlos Velasco Carballo of Spain infuriated Di Matteo and the home fans by shaking his head and waving play on.
The hosts would still be left to celebrate jubilantly in the fourth minute of stoppage time, however, as Moses, introduced as a 79th-minute substitute, grabbed all three points with a powerful header from Mata’s corner as Chelsea drew level with their opponents at the top of Group E ahead of their trip to face Juventus in Turin.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Oscar - Chelsea: The Brazilian produced a piece of skill worthy of winning the match on its own with his sublime volley from range, and his creativity from midfield inspired Chelsea throughout.
SHAKHTAR DONETSK: Pyatov 5, Srna 7, Kucher 6, Rakitskiy 6, Rat 7, Hubschman 6, Fernandinho 6, Alex Teixeira 7, Mkhitaryan 6, Willian 8, Luiz Adriano 7. Subs: Ilsinho 6.
MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS