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Match Analysis: Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-4 Chelsea

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at Chelsea's convincing 4-0 victory over 10-man Maccabi Tel Aviv in Group G of the Champions League.

Chelsea moved to within 90 minutes of the Champions League last 16 courtesy of a 4-0 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv at the Sammy Ofer Stadium this evening.

The visitors opened the scoring after 20 minutes when Gary Cahill stabbed a rebound home from close range, and the home side's task became even tougher when Tal Ben Haim was sent off five minutes before half time.

Chelsea struggled to make the most of their numerical advantage until the final 20 minutes, but Willian's free kick opened the floodgates as Oscar and Kurt Zouma added further gloss to the scoreline.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at whether the Blues deserved to run out such comfortable winners.

Match statistics

MACCABI
Shots: 9
On target: 2
Possession: 36%
Corners: 4
Fouls: 13

CHELSEA
Shots: 21
On target: 10
Possession: 64%
Corners: 6
Fouls: 11

Was the result fair?

There is no doubt whatsoever that Chelsea deserved to win this match, and fairly comfortably, but a four-goal victory is a little harsh on the hosts. Maccabi actually started the brighter of the two teams and could have been ahead inside a couple of minutes, but the match quickly fell into the expected rhythm as Chelsea dominated possession and controlled proceedings. They needed a slice of luck to take the lead through Cahill, whose header moments before had been brilliantly turned onto the post by Predrag Rajkovic, but they certainly deserved to be ahead.

Maccabi could not create anything else of real substance in the first half after a bright opening five minutes, and their task looked like an impossible one when Ben Haim was given his marching orders for a wild and reckless swipe at Diego Costa. If anything, though, that red card galvanised the hosts and they certainly had enough chances in the second half to have made this one very interesting indeed. Elazar Dasa and Eran Zahavi in particular were thwarted by Asmir Begovic following some quick breaks forward.

As long as the gap remained just one goal, Maccabi were in the game, and it was a lot easier to see them nicking an equaliser when they had 10 men on the field as opposed to the full complement. However, a second goal for Chelsea was always going to kill them off, and that finally arrived when Willian curled home yet another free kick. Oscar added a third shortly afterwards before Zouma capped things off in injury time, giving a rather bloated look to the scoreline despite Chelsea deserving their victory.

Maccabi's performance

Maccabi went into this match as statistically the worst team in the Champions League group stages, scoring a joint-low one goal, conceding a joint-high 11 and being the only side not to have picked up a single point in their opening four games. Ultimately this result did nothing to improve any of that - indeed, their status as the tournament's whipping boys has only been enhanced - but they did at least show some fight, spirit and even a sprinkling of quality to suggest that they do perhaps deserve to be here.

There wasn't much of that evident in the first half, though. The hosts seemed to take Chelsea by surprise a little in the opening five minutes, creating two clear sights of goal and pressuring their visitors well off the ball, but that was never going to last. They soon reverted to the expected tactic of getting everyone behind the ball and frustrating Chelsea. It wasn't the most exciting of ploys, but it did work and, the Cahill goal aside, Rajkovic had very little to do in the opening 45 minutes.

The second half is perhaps the perfect indication of why Slavisa Jokanovic felt the need to play like they did in the first. His side were more of a threat going forward, despite the numerical disparity, and probably should have scored at least one of the chances for Dasa and Zahavi to level things up. They performed much better with 10 men, but ultimately the second half saw them concede three goals and the final scoreline looks like a drubbing as a result. It was a lot closer than that for much of the second period, though, and there are a few positives for them to take from this defeat.

Chelsea's performance

It is another win for Chelsea, who look to be edging towards normality again following their torrid start to the season, but Jose Mourinho is not likely to be entirely happy with his side after this one. A four-goal victory away in the Champions League is impressive no matter who provides the opposition, particularly considering Chelsea's poor form on the road this season, but they made things a lot more difficult than they needed to be against the tournament's worst side playing with only 10 men.

They were in complete control of the first half from the fifth minute onwards, but it was always going to be a case of being patient against such numbers at the back. A stroke of luck, tinged with a striker's instinct from Cahill, handed them the lead, but they weren't able to create as many clear-cut chances as they should have considering their dominance, despite some slick passing in and around the box. Mourinho looked to be getting particularly frustrated with Costa's lack of movement in the area, while he was also unhappy with Eden Hazard at times before eventually hauling the Belgian off in the second half.

His side may have scored three times after the break, but they had less control over the game and were fortunate that they weren't punished for some sloppy marking at times. Everyone was expecting a flurry of goals after Ben Haim's red card, but that didn't arrive until the final 20 minutes, with Willian's free kick finally killing the game off as a contest. Ultimately, though, it is another win, with an eye-catching scoreline that brings them ever closer to the last 16 so, while the performance was not quite perfect, it was a good night for Chelsea.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Willian: Arguably Chelsea's player of the season so far, and he was again the best player on the pitch this evening. The Brazilian's workrate was superb throughout his time on the field, and he came up with the moment of magic that was needed to finally give his side breathing space. His free kick was the sixth he has scored this season and the fourth in five Champions League games.

Biggest gaffe

The hosts may have played better with 10 men than with 11, but Ben Haim's red card was still a moment of madness from the former Chelsea man. The defender got a hand to the face from Costa moments earlier, but that does not excuse his lashing out at the striker. In his defence, it looked more cynical than malicious, but whichever way you slice it Ben Haim was stupid and can't have any real complaints at being dismissed.

Referee performance

Alberto Undiano Mallenco had a good game in the middle tonight. His biggest decision was to send Ben Haim off, and that proved to be the right one despite it looking like a harsh call on first viewing.

What next?

Maccabi: Maccabi return to domestic action on Sunday as they host Bnei Yehuda looking to hold on to top spot in the league.

Chelsea: Chelsea, meanwhile, face a London derby against in-form Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

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Chelsea's Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho reacts during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in London on October 31, 2015
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