Haifa - Chelsea cruised to an easy 4-0
Champions League victory over 10-man Maccabi Tel Aviv in Haifa on Tuesday to
close in on the last 16.
The victory, coupled with Dynamo Kiev's 2-0
win at Porto, means Chelsea only need a draw at home to the Portuguese in two
weeks to guarantee their passage to the knockout stage.
Gary Cahill gave the English Premier League
champions a first-half lead before former Blues centre-half Tal Ben Haim was
sent off just before the break.
Chelsea turned the screw in the last 17
minutes as Brazilians Willian and Oscar, and French centre-back Kurt Zouma all
found the net.
"Very important, especially with what
happened in Porto we really needed to win this match, and also important to get
two victories in a few days," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho told BT Sport.
The London club have been struggling for
form all season but this victory follows a 1-0 home win over Norwich City in
the Premier League at the weekend and Mourinho added: "I hope morale
comes, tranquility comes, confidence comes."
The Israeli champions got off to a
promising start as midfielder Dor Peretz sent a header just wide on three
In the fifth minute, Maccabi defender Eli
Dasa had another opportunity to give the hosts, who had lost all their previous
group games, a surprising lead, but he was way off target with his shot.
Chelsea controlled possession and had
created several dangerous chances before taking a deserved lead in the 20th
minute when centre-back Cahill tapped in a rebound following a wonderful save
from goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic.
But perhaps the most pivotal moment came in
the 40th minute when the referee controversially gave Ben Haim a straight red
card for kicking out at Diego Costa.
The home crowd jeered and Ben Haim looked
shocked but television replays suggested the referee's decision was fair.
Despite being down to 10 men, Maccabi got
off to a determined start in the second half but they couldn't threaten Asmir
In the 73rd minute, Brazil international
Willian scored a spectacular free-kick that left Rajkovic rooted to his line.
Willian is now Chelsea's leading scorer in
this Champions League campaign with four goals.
Three minutes later fellow Brazil
international Oscar headed in a perfect cross from left-back Abdul Baba Rahman
to give Chelsea a commanding 3-0 lead.
Some Maccabi supporters began heading for
the exit but there was worse still to come for the hosts as Zouma headed home
deep into injury time.
Chelsea had also defeated Maccabi 4-0 at
Stamford Bridge in the opening group match.
The result meant the Israelis can no longer
even finish third and qualify for the Europa League.
Chelsea are level on 10 points with Porto
while Dynamo Kiev are two points further back.
All three could finish level on points at
the end if the Ukrainians win at home to Maccabi and the other two sides draw
in west London.
In that case, Dynamo would win the group
and Porto would drop into the Europa League.