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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 23 May, 2019

Chelsea through as group winners after freak own-goal hands them early lead

The Blues were victorious against Jose Mourinho’s old club Porto at Stamford Bridge.

Diego Costa's shot leads to the first goal.
Diego Costa's shot leads to the first goal.
Image: Frank Augstein

Updated at 22.00 

CHELSEA CLINCHED THEIR place in the last 16 of the Champions League with the minimum of fuss, seeing off Jose Mourinho’s former club Porto 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho’s men knew that a win or a draw would ensure first or second place in Group G respectively and the Premier League champions made sure it was the former thanks to an early own-goal and Willian’s second-half strike.

Following an eighth defeat of their Premier League title defence against AFC Bournemouth on Saturday, Mourinho welcomed back skipper John Terry from injury and recalled Diego Costa – the Spain international having been benched for Chelsea’s last two outings.

And Costa had a hand in the hosts’ hugely fortuitous opener – his saved effort rebounding in off Ivan Marcano to ease the tension on a pivotal night in Chelsea’s season.

Porto threatened in spells, knowing a victory was always likely to be required – Dynamo Kiev avoided any slip-ups to claim an expected win against Maccabi Tel Aviv in Ukraine.

Maccabi’s failure to spring an upset meant the Portuguese side were consigned to the Europa League, with Willian sealing victory seven minutes into the second half as Mourinho’s men made sure of top spot ahead of Kiev.

Amid a subdued atmosphere at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea appeared nervy in the opening stages, but were handed a huge slice of fortune in their 12th-minute opener.

Eden Hazard set Costa in on goal for Chelsea’s first meaningful foray forward, with the recalled striker’s effort saved by Iker Casillas, only to rebound back into the net off Marcano. Maicon’s efforts to sprint and keep the ball from crossing the line proved in vain and the opener initially knocked the wind out of Porto sails.

Oscar saw penalty appeals waved away after claiming contact with Marcano, with the Brazilian’s deflected effort veering just wide before the half-hour mark. Costa dragged an effort wide of Casillas’ right-hand post as Chelsea edged the final stages of the half, with Willian’s powerful drive testing the Porto star early after the restart.

Jesus Corona’s curled strike forced Thibaut Courtois into a smart save, but Willian would not be denied with his second attempt – powering a strike past Casillas from a similar position to his earlier chance.

Hazard supplied the Brazilian as Porto’s back three were woefully exposed – the former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder finishing low and hard to seal Chelsea’s progression as group winners.

With Kiev winning against already-eliminated Tel Aviv, Porto threw caution to the wind as Yacine Brahimi curled an effort wide and Courtois tipped substitute Cristian Tello’s effort round the post.

But Chelsea remained in control – Hazard hitting the post late on – as an improved display from the weekend ensured a rare bright spot in what has been a difficult campaign, leaving Porto to focus on Europa League football.

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