Good afternoon! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole
for matchday three of the Champions League
, where Group G leaders Dynamo Kiev
. A victory for the visitors tonight would lift them back into the top two places, but Kiev will be no pushovers in front of their home fans here. It promises to be an intriguing contest. Let's start with a look at the teams...
CHELSEA STARTING XI:
Begovic; Zouma, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Matic; Willian
, Fabregas, Hazard; Diego Costa
CHELSEA SUBS: Blackman, Baba, Mikel, Oscar, Traore, Kenedy, Falcao
We will bring you team news for Dynamo Kiev shortly, but firstly Chelsea's headline news is that Eden Hazard
returns to the starting XI for tonight's match having been dropped against Aston Villa at the weekend. The Belgian, who was also left out of the side to face Porto on matchday two, has been nowhere near his best so far this season and is currently on a run of 15 games without a goal for Chelsea - the longest barren spell during his time with the club. He is just one away from 50 for the Blues, though, and reaching that milestone tonight would be a perfect response to being dropped.
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In front of him, Diego Costa keeps his place in the side unsurprisingly after returning from his three-game domestic ban to score against Aston Villa at the weekend. The Spaniard also forced Alan Hutton's own goal and will be hoping to finally get going following a slow start to the season, much like the rest of his teammates. He netted his first Champions League goal for the Blues on matchday one with a stunning volley and saw an effort come off the bar against Porto in their second group game.
The in-form Willian also starts in the trio behind Costa, with the Brazilian netting four times in his last five appearances for the club having only managed eight in his 97 appearances before that. He has also been in scoring form for his country of late and has proven himself to be a real threat from dead-ball situations, even if one or two of his free kicks have been intended as crosses. Fabregas moves further forward for tonight's match, with Loftus-Cheek not even on the bench.
That paves the way for Matic to return to the starting lineup alongside Ramires at the heart of the midfield, with the former of those two another who has really struggled to rediscover his form this season. He was one of the most impressive players in the Premier League for much of last term, but has found himself in and out of the side this time around and, when he has played, he hasn't exactly covered himself in glory it must be said.
The defence is another area that has been unsettled during this patchy period for the Blues, and there is more reshuffling from Mourinho tonight. Baba Rahman looked shaky against Aston Villa at the weekend and is dropped to the bench as a result, with Azpilicueta switching back to the left. Ivanovic's continued absence with a hamstring injury means that Zouma switches to right-back, which allows Gary Cahill to return alongside Terry in a centre-back partnership that was so solid last season. Begovic continues between the sticks with Courtois still out.
DYNAMO KIEV STARTING XI: Shovkovsky; Danilo Silva, Khacheridi, Dragovic, Vida; Rybalka, Sydorchuk, Yarmolenko, Buyalskyi, Gonzalez; Kravets
DYNAMO KIEV SUBS: Veloso, Antunes, Petrovic, Moraes, Garmash, Husyev, Rybka
has made no fewer than five changes to his side from the team that was heavily beaten by Shakhtar Donetsk on Friday, with Portuguese pair Miguel Veloso and Antunes among those to drop to the bench. Junior Moraes, who scored the second goal in Kiev's victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv on matchday two, also drops out as Artem Kravets leads the line for the hosts this evening.
It is Andriy Yarmolenko who is Dynamo Kiev's biggest attacking threat, however, and he will fancy his chances against what has been a shaky Chelsea defence so far this season. The wide attacking midfielder can be a very tricky customer and has been strongly linked with Chelsea in the buildup to this match after it was reported that Jose Mourinho
went on a scouting mission to see him during Ukraine's recent Euro 2016 qualifying match with Spain.
Mourinho will be hoping that Yarmolenko doesn't get many chances to show what he can do tonight, of course, but Kiev will go into this match feeling confident that they can come away with at least a point. They have been in good form in all competitions so far this season and top Group G after two matches having picked up a win and a draw so far. They did need a late, late equaliser to share the spoils with Porto on matchday one, however, and it would still be something of a surprise if they were to finish in the top two of the group.
Certainly before the first match, they would have been third favourites in this group after Chelsea and Porto, but a positive result tonight would put them in a very strong position - four points clear of Mourinho's side with the final three matches to play. They overcame Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-0 in their last European outing, with Yarmolenko and Moraes on the scoresheet in Israel, although they were expected to win that match and tonight will be a much tougher test of their credentials.
Their record in this competition has not been great in recent years, it must be said. They have failed to get out of the group stages in any of their last 10 attempts, although a draw tonight would put them in a position they have very rarely found themselves in. Only twice before have Kiev remained unbeaten in their opening three Champions League group stages - back in 1997-98 and, more recently, in 2008-09.
The victory over Maccabi last time out was their first in their last six Champions League outings, though, with that run stretching back to October 3, 2012. Overall, they have won only five of their last 33 group games in this competition, and somewhat surprisingly their away form is no better. Eastern European sides can often offer a tough challenge for visiting sides, but Kiev have won just three of their last 16 home Champions League outings, and none of their last three. In Europe as a whole, though, they have lost just one of their last 10 home games, winning seven.
Domestically things have been better for Sergei Rebrov
's side, although they fell to a damaging defeat to title rivals Shakhtar Donetsk on Friday that saw them surrender top spot. The 3-0 home reverse not only ended Kiev's unbeaten start to the domestic season, it also ended a 38-match unbeaten run in the league and a 23-game streak without defeat in all competitions.
The Shakhtar loss appears to be an anomaly, though, and Chelsea should take heed of the results Kiev were enjoying before that defeat. In their 23-game run in league, cup and Europe, they won 18 games and kept just as many clean sheets, including five in a row in the direct buildup to Friday's loss. Defensively they are very strong, conceding a league-low five goals in their 11 Ukrainian Premier League games so far, while they have managed an average of two goals per game at the other end in that time.
While their home form in the Champions League has not been particularly impressive recently, the defeat to Shakhtar on Friday was their first in front of their own fans in any competition for 32 matches - a run that stretched back to April 2014. Indeed, the last time they were beaten in their own back yard by a side other than Shakhtar was in February 2014, during which time they have thrashed Everton 5-2 in last season's Europa League.
This will certainly not be a walk in the park for Chelsea tonight, then, particularly with the way they have been performing so far this season, It is an almost unrecognisable side to the one that cruised to the Premier League title last season, and in truth they haven't looked entirely convincing since their defeat to Tottenham Hotspur back on New Year's Day. Mourinho's side ground out results to push themselves over the line last term, while this time around they simply have not got going yet.
Pretty much every player has underperformed so far for the Blues, but Mourinho will be hoping to find a level of consistency now and a victory tonight would give them back-to-back wins for just the second time this season. Even when they have won, though, they haven't exactly filled their fans with optimism that the Chelsea of last season is on the brink of a return - the victory over West Brom was slightly fortuitous in that the Baggies missed a penalty, while Arsenal ended the match with nine men on their way to defeat.
Chelsea did pick up just their third league win in nine games at the weekend at the expense of Aston Villa, with a familiar 2-0 scoreline but what is also becoming an all-too familiar story. They were not convincing at all against a side in woeful form who they often fire plenty of goals past, in the end relying on a mistake and an own goal to fight their way past Tim Sherwood's strugglers. It was, however, a first win in four games, and right now results are the most important thing as Mourinho looks to repair some of the damage done by that early season form.
They now sit 12th in the Premier League table, closer to the relegation zone than the top four and still 10 points adrift of leaders Manchester City. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of their season so far has been the difference between them defensively compared to last term. They have already let in 17 goals in the league - only three teams have shipped fewer - a tally it took them until March 20 to let in last season.
They weren't exactly encouraging defensively in their last Champions League outing either, and the likes of Brahimi and Aboubakar ran them ragged at times. Mourinho fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of former club Porto, and it was a fully justified result as well. Chelsea will point to hitting the woodwork and seeing a good penalty shout turned down, but Porto were the better side on the night and also struck the post themselves at the Estadio do Dragao.
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That means that Chelsea have now won only two of their last nine Champions League away games, a run that stretches back to October 2013. The defeat was their first in 10 games in this competition overall, however, and they haven't lost consecutive matches in Europe's premier competition since April 2011, when Manchester United beat them in both legs of the quarter-final. Should they lose again tonight then another quarter-final may feel like a long way away.
In all, they have already lost six of their 13 games in all competitions this season, compared to just four in 54 throughout the 2014-15 campaign. They had made their worst start to a top-flight season since 1978-79 before the Villa victory, and they are still 12 points worse off at this stage than they were at the same point last term. They have already dropped 16 points in nine games this season, while they dropped just six in their opening 14 games last time around.
PREDICTION: We're 10 minutes away from kickoff here, which means that it is time for a prediction! This is a fairly tough one to call in all honesty. On paper, Chelsea really should have enough about them to win, but there are no guarantees the way they are playing. Kiev's European home record isn't great, but then neither is Chelsea's away form. A draw is entirely possible and, in truth, Chelsea may be content with that, but they surely have to find a bit of form soon and I'm going to back them to win 2-1.
These two sides have never met in a competitive fixture before, but Kiev have a fair deal of experience against English opposition. They haven't all been pleasant experiences, however, with their last Champions League victory over a Premier League side coming 12 years ago when they beat Arsenal 2-1. They have lost four of the five meetings since then, and overall have won five of their 24 games against English sides.
That does include the 5-2 triumph over Everton in last season's Europa League, though, so they do have recent experience of beating English sides, albeit not in the Champions League. Chelsea, meanwhile, have made just one previous visit to Ukraine, and they were beaten on that occasion as Shakhtar Donetsk overcame the then European champions 2-1. Chelsea did get a measure of revenge with a 3-2 win in the return leg, but they still became the first holders to exit in the groups.
Chelsea have not kept a single clean sheet away from home this season and, while Kiev did draw a blank in their most recent home game, they have generally been in good scoring form recently. In their five games prior to that loss, they scored 12 times and conceded none on their way to maximum points in that time.
Mourinho has a wide smile on his face as he emerges from the tunnel after his players - will that still be there in 90 minutes times? We're just a couple of minutes away from kickoff in the Ukraine!
KICKOFF: Here we go then! Dynamo Kiev get us underway on a night that could have a big say on the fate of both of these sides in Group G.
The battle between Azpilicueta and Yarmolenko is likely to be an important one tonight, and already the Chelsea full-back has clashed with the dangerous winger on a few occasions. He is sticking very tight to his man, but has already picked up a warning from the referee.
Good early possession from Chelsea as they keep the ball inside the Kiev half. It will take a bit longer of doing that to silence this crowd, but they have prevented the hosts from building any sort of early momentum at least.
SAVE! The first shot of the night goes the way of the visitors as Fabregas goes for goal from range, but his bobbling effort is relatively simple for Shovkovsky to save down low to his right.
Chelsea come forward and test the keeper again, but once more it is a simple one for Shovkovskiy. In truth, Willian should probably do a bit better having been afforded plenty of space to let fly, but he doesn't really catch his left-footed effort.
OFF THE POST! Chelsea are getting closer in these opening stages! Fabregas sees a shot blocked on the edge of the box and the ball runs free to Hazard, who is also given too much space to move the ball to the right and curl one towards the bottom far corner. However, Shovkovskiy makes a brilliant fingertip save to turn it onto the base of the post.
CHANCE! Half-chance for Chelsea as Costa picks the ball up in the left channel and gets to the byline before clipping the ball back into the middle for Fabregas. It arrives at the Spaniard quickly, and he can't direct his header on target.
SAVE! Kiev threaten for the first time at the other end of the field as Yarmolenko spreads a brilliant ball out to Gonzalez, who in turn drops the ball back to Buyalskyi. The midfielder hits it first time, but his curling effort is straight at Begovic.
It has been a decent start to this match, but Chelsea will be the happier of the two sides. They have threatened on a few occasions already, while limiting Kiev to that one effort moments ago. Still no goals in this one, though!
The hosts are coming into this match a little more in an attacking sense at the moment, with Yarmolenko beginning to get himself a little bit more involved. He is clearly a danger is given space.
PENALTY SHOUT! Fabregas wants a penalty having made his way down the left and cut inside before going down under the challenge of Rybalka. The referee is well placed and says no, but I have certainly seen them given. A lucky escape for Kiev.
CLOSE! Good chance for Chelsea to swing the ball into the box as they win a free kick on the left side of the field. Willian - so dangerous from this sort of position recently - sends in another fantastic ball, but Costa is inches short of turning it home.
CHANCE! Brilliant from Matic as he picks up a loose ball in midfield before driving forward with a powerful run. There is no stopping him as he strides into the Kiev penalty area, but he stabs his eventual effort just past the post. The finish was all that was lacking there - it would have been a magnificent goal!
There have been plenty of incidents as we approach the midway point of the first half, then, with Chelsea having come closest to breaking the deadlock when Hazard hit the foot of the upright. The visitors have certainly settled well here and don't look like a side short of confidence at the moment.
Mourinho and Fabregas are both still chipping away at the officials, presumably about that penalty call. In fairness to the pair, the more I see it the more it looks like it should have been given. Referee Damir Skomina was perfectly placed and simply got it wrong.
SHOT! Shooting chance for the hosts as they work their way down the left flank before the ball is slipped back inside for Buyalskyi. The midfielder finds himself in a bit of space just outside the box, but that is quickly closed down by both Cahill and Terry, and the ball takes a deflection off the skipper on its way behind for a corner.
Kiev are starting to get a bit of joy down their left flank now up against Zouma, who of course is more accustomed to playing in central defence or midfield. Vida gets in behind him here and plays a looping cross towards the back post that needs to be turned behind for a corner.
Chelsea have pressed really well off the ball so far tonight, giving Kiev very little time on the ball no matter where on the pitch they are. It has been a confident display both on and off the ball from the visitors.
Chelsea win a corner and Willian's dangerous delivery again causes problems and Shovkovskiy comes off his line but barely makes an attempt to get it after bumping into Cahill. Fortunately for the veteran keeper, there are no blue shirts at the back post waiting to put it in.
Good chance for Chelsea to break courtesy of Ramires winning the ball in midfield. They have a three-on-three situation, but Ramires's pass is a little behind Hazard, which kills the momentum of the move. Chelsea aren't quick enough to get up in support either, and in the end Hazard settles for a corner.
SAVE! That corner is played right out to the edge of the penalty area but Cahill meets it with a good header that forces Shovkovskiy into a routine save, but one that he had to make.
UPDATE: There has been a goal in the other Group G game taken place tonight, with Porto taking the lead against Maccabi Tel Aviv through Aboubakar. Elsewhere, the most interestingly scoreline has seen Roma come from two behind to level things up against Bayer Leverkusen, while Manuel Neuer has made a truly remarkable save to keep Bayern and Arsenal goalless at the Emirates.
A bit of a lull in this match at the moment as both sides look to win control of the midfield battle. It is very even right now, but on the whole Chelsea will probably feel that they should be leading this game.
UPDATE: ...and now Porto have added a second against Maccabi. No real surprises with that scoreline, and no real surprises with the scorer either as Brahimi joins Aboubakar on the board.
Lovely touch from Gonzalez as he plays the ball to Vida using his back. That has been the highlight of a fairly dull period of the match in truth. Both teams look content to reach half time all square at the moment.
HALF TIME: Dynamo Kiev 0-0 Chelsea
The first half comes to an end in Ukraine and we are still goalless between Dynamo Kiev and Chelsea. It was a relatively eventful start to the match, but the action tailed off a bit towards the end of that opening 45 minutes. Of the two teams, though, Chelsea have enjoyed the best chances and come closest to breaking the deadlock. Kiev have had their moments, but have failed to really trouble Begovic in the Chelsea goal.
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The closest we have come to seeing a goal so far was when Eden Hazard, back in the starting lineup after being dropped against Aston Villa at the weekend, saw his curling effort brilliantly tipped onto the post with less than 10 minutes gone. The Belgian collected a loose ball on the left side of the area before shifting the ball a yard to his right a curling one towards the bottom far corner. Shovkovskiy, at 40 years of age, somehow go a fingertip to it to turn it onto the post, though.
Perhaps the best chance of the half fell to Nemanja Matic, who went on a barnstorming run forward having picked up the ball in midfield. He coasted past a couple of white shirts on his way into the box, but stabbed his effort narrowly past the post when he probably should have done better.
Willian has also created a chance with a fine delivery from a free kick that Costa just couldn't turn home, while Fabregas and Cahill have both also tested the Kiev keeper. The former of those two will feel that he should have had a penalty too having been brought down inside the box, but referee Damir Skomina shook his head despite being very well placed. The replays suggested that Fabregas had a very strong case.
As for Kiev, their best chance has probably fallen the way of Buyalskyi after Yarmolenko and Gonzalez had combined to tee up the midfielder. His shot was straight at Begovic from the edge of the penalty area, though, while just before half time the same player saw his long-range effort deflected narrowly past the post having initially been given a yard of space to shoot from just outside the box.
KICKOFF: Chelsea get us back underway in Kiev as they look to make it consecutive wins for just the second time this season.
Within 20 seconds of kickoff Willian is brought down by Rybalka in a very dangerous position. Willian, unsurprisingly, is standing over this one...
OFF THE BAR! Brilliant from Willian, who doesn't seem to be able to do any wrong from set pieces at the moment. He gets it over the wall, but it is lacking perhaps an inch of dip as it crashes against the underside of the crossbar, with the keeper rooted to the spot. You don't get much closer than that!
Chelsea may be content with a draw tonight - Mourinho targeted four points from this double-header with Kiev, after all - but as things stand they will be disappointed not to have won the game. They have limited Kiev to very few chances while hitting the woodwork twice at the other end.
Good defending from Zouma, who looks to have lost a yard on Vida but quickly makes that back up within three long strides to put in a fine challenge and avert the danger.
CHANCE! Good opening at the other end as Hazard picks the ball up in a dangerous area with blue shirts flooding forward to outnumber the Kiev defence. Hazard chooses to find Fabregas, but his low effort is simple for Shovkovskiy to collect.
Kiev really haven't shown enough attacking intent so far tonight. A win would go a long way to helping them qualify for the knockout rounds for the first time in their last 11 attempts, but they look like they would be happy with a draw.
Kiev have actually had the most possession in this match so far, but there is no doubt that Chelsea have used the ball better. Begovic is still yet to be really tested, while Chelsea have dealt with the threat of Yarmolenko particularly well.
CHANCE! A good move from Chelsea creates a good chance for Hazard that is thwarted by a fine piece of defending. Vida fell asleep at full-back to allow Willian to latch on to Fabregas's pass through, and the Brazilian pulls it straight back to Hazard in space. The Belgian picks his spot and goes for goal, but Rybalka throws himself in the way of the effort make a vital block.
CHANCE! For once Willian's delivery is poor and Kiev break quickly. Yarmolenko's body swerve sends Ramires the wrong way as he drives forward before poking a pass through to Gonzalez down the left channel. The Paraguayan has the angle against him but tries his luck at the near post, and Begovic is there to turn it behind for a corner.
Again Begovic is called upon to claw a cross away as Kiev begin to build their best spell of momentum yet.
Almost a shocker from Vida as he trips up his own feet when trying to collect a pass from the keeper! It was good pressure from Chelsea to create a bit of panic in the defence, but Vida picks himself up and just about does enough to atone for his error.
YELLOW CARD! The first card of the night finally arrives and it is Buyalskiy who gets it for a poor sliding challenge in his desperation to win the ball inside the Chelsea half.
There's a sniper in the crowd! Gonzalez looks to take on Zouma with a few stepovers before driving down the left flank, but Zouma gets his body across well to see the ball out. Gonzalez throws himself to the floor, but rightly gets nothing from the ref.
YELLOW CARD! This time Zouma is penalised by the ref, and again it is the correct decision. The Chelsea man goes lunging in on Vida and has no complaints at picking up the game's second yellow card.
Zouma is involved again here, this time inadvertently bringing down Gonzalez to give Kiev a free kick in a promising crossing position. Not enough to earn a second yellow, but punishment could still be forthcoming in the form of a goal...
CHANCE! Nothing comes of the original free kick, but Kiev recycle it and Gonzalez plays the ball back to Vida, who finds himself still in the box. He is not the man Rebrov would want there, though, and he fires his effort high over the crossbar from a very good position.
Kiev are looking more and more dangerous right now - ominous signs for Chelsea. They were content to stay level for the vast majority of the match, but in the final half an hour they are making more of an effort to push forward and get what would be a huge victory.
That sniper is prolific tonight. This time he takes out Hazard, who danced his way past a couple of challenges and, in fairness, was fouled during that, but he left it far too late to throw himself to the floor and again the ref gives nothing.
CHELSEA SUB: The first change of the night comes from the visitors as Fabregas is replaced by Oscar.
Less than 15 minutes remain here and still we await the opening goal. Chelsea's threat has dwindled somewhat in the last 15 minutes or so, but they still have the players to hurt Kiev. Elsewhere, by the way, Arsenal have taken the lead against Bayern Munich through Olivier Giroud.
DYNAMO KIEV SUB: The hosts make their first change of the evening, and it is a like-for-like one up front as Junior Moraes comes on for Kravets.
SAVE! Kiev come forward again, and once more it is Yarmolenko who is at the heart of his side's move. He gives the ball to Gonzalez, who cuts inside but then hits a rather tame effort straight at Begovic.
DYNAMO KIEV SUB: Another change for Rebrov sees Buyalskiy replaced by Denis Garmash.
UPDATE: There is an incredible match going on in Germany right now. Bayer Leverkusen raced into a 2-0 lead against Roma, but the Serie A side fought back and opened up a two-goal advantage of their own in the second half. Leverkusen have since fought back as well, however, and it is now 4-4 in the closing stages.
Both sides may be fairly happy with this point, but in practice it is a better one for Chelsea than Kiev. Dynamo still have to play Chelsea and Porto away from home - games they will do very well to get anything out of - so they probably need a win tonight.
CHANCE! Almost a late winner for Kiev as Terry's poor pass is straight to Sydorchuk in a very dangerous position. He fires a low cross in towards the near post where Moraes is coming in, but Begovic smothers the ball.
The late pressure is coming from Kiev here! Can they get a winner in the dying stages? They have a corner...
SHOT! The corner comes to nothing and Chelsea break quickly, with Hazard leading the charge. He fires a low ball across to Willian, who cuts inside but can't get enough bend on his shot to sneak it inside the post.
There will be two minutes of added time at the end of this match. Will we see any late drama? It is Chelsea looking most likely now.
FULL TIME: Dynamo Kiev 0-0 Chelsea
The final whistle blows in Kiev, then, and it is honours even between Dynamo and Chelsea as neither side are able to break the deadlock, although the visitors did hit the woodwork twice and will probably feel that this is two points dropped. Chelsea remain third in Group G as a result, but they will be confident of overhauling Kiev when the two sides meet again at Stamford Bridge on November 4.
That is all we have time for this evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole
for tonight's match as Dynamo Kiev hold Chelsea to a goalless draw that, you'd have to say, favours the away side in the long run. I will leave you with our match report
, and be sure to stick around for reaction, analysis and player ratings. There is plenty more European football coming up for you over the next two nights as well, so check back in with us for coverage of that. From me, though, it is goodbye for now!