Chelsea lose top spot with Atletico Madrid draw
Champions League Group C, Stamford Bridge - Chelsea 1 (Savic OG 75') Atletico Madrid 1 (Saul 56')
Chelsea finished second in their Champions League group following a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid, which leaves them facing a tough draw in the next round.
The Blues needed to secure victory at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night, with Roma beating Qarabag in Italy, but the Giallorossi finish top of the pile in Group C, by virtue of their better head-to-head record against Chelsea, after the pair finished level on 11 points. Atletico fail to qualify for the last 16 for the finish time in five seasons.
Saul gave Atletico the lead with a close range header in the 56th minute before Hazard's cross was deflected in by Stefan Savic to draw Chelsea level 15 minutes from time.
Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the UEFA Champions League group C match between Chelsea FC and Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge on December 5, 2017 in London, United Kingdom.Getty Images
Andreas Christensen and Willian both had glorious chances to score but they couldn't find a winner, meaning the Blues, as it stands, will face one of Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona or Besiktas in the next round.
After a tame first half, Atletico knew they had to go for broke in the second period - as a win and Roma dropping points would be the only way they could qualify for the last 16 - and the visitors were soon in front thanks to Saul’s goal, provided by Fernando Torres on his return to Stamford Bridge.
Antonio Conte shuffled his pack, with Willian and Pedro coming on, and that gave the hosts added impetus, and they were soon level after Savic diverted Hazard’s drilled cross into the net.
Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard (L) shoots goalward and Atletico Madrid's Montenegrin defender Stefan Savic (R) blocks to score an own goal during a UEFA Champions League Group C football match between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid at Stamford BridGetty Images
Willian blazed over with the goal at his mercy late on, while Jan Oblak was inspired in the Atleti goal. Qualification was most important for Chelsea, but they could rue their profligacy when the draw comes around next Monday.
Did Chelsea take their foot off the gas too soon? The first half had a strange feel to it at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea weren’t really over-exerting, while Atleti seemed resigned to their fate. Had the Blues taken the lead, Atletico’s heads would have dropped. As it turned out, Chelsea were caught cold as Atleti upped their game after the break. A strong Chelsea side, in form, had to offer more in the first half. A tough tie could be in the offing in the last 16 as a result of such lethargy.
Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte holds the ball during a UEFA Champions League Group C football match between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge in London on December 5, 2017.Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
Eden Hazard. The Belgium international looked like a Galactico at Stamford Bridge. Only three players have completed more dribbles in the Champions League this season, and he continued to glide past players like they weren’t there on Tuesday night. Sometimes, his team-mates just couldn’t keep up.
Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard (C) controls the ball during a UEFA Champions League Group C football match between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge in London on December 5, 2017.Getty Images
38’ - SAVE! Brilliant from Zappacosta, as he deceives everyone by firing through the Partey's legs, towards Oblak's near post, but the Atleti stopper flings himself across to claw the ball out.
56’ - GOOOOOOAAAALLLL!!!!! Chelsea 0-1 Atletico Madrid. It has been coming, as Saul Niguez heads home to give his side the lead! So what does that mean? Well, as it stands, it still isn't enough for Atleti, as Roma have taken the lead against Qarabag, and so, as it stands, Chelsea would finish second! Torres has done his bit for the goal, as he brilliantly flicked the ball on for the unmarked Saul to steer his header home. Poor from Bakayoko at the back post, he just let Saul go.
Atletico Madrid's Spanish midfielder Saul Niguez (R) heads the ball to score past Chelsea's Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois during a UEFA Champions League Group C football match between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge in London on DecemGetty Images
67’ - MISS! A quick corner from Chelsea catches Atleti out, Fabregas whips it across for Christensen, but the Dane cannot find the target with his head from point-blank range.
75’ - GOOOOOAAAAALLL! Chelsea 1-1 Atletico Madrid. Savic is the unfortunate man as he diverts Hazard's cross home to level things up. There is some controversy about that goal, as Morata did seem to get away with a push, but again Hazard is the man making things happen for Chelsea. Fabregas' cross found him at the back post, he burst to the byline, before firing across goal. Savic stuck out a leg, and could only watch on in horror as the ball flew into the net.
Chelsea's Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard celebrates an own goal by Atletico Madrid's Montenegrin defender Stefan Savic during a UEFA Champions League Group C football match between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge in London on December 5, 20Getty Images
77’ - SAVE! Almost immediately, Chelsea find themselves three on one, Morata is in, but Oblak races off his line to make a brilliant save. Can Chelsea win this now and win the group?
85’ - MISS! That was the moment for Willian to win it after being picked out by Hazard, but the Brazilian blazes over the top!
The last time Atletico were knocked out of the Champions League group stage was in 2009/10 when they won the Europa League at the end of the season.
Even though they have progressed, only once have Chelsea had fewer points in the current Champions League group stage format (since 2003/04) - 2012/13 when being eliminated from the competition.
The Blues have lost just one of their last 41 Champions League group stage matches at Stamford Bridge (W30 D10) – a 1-2 loss against FC Basel in September 2013.
Chelsea have also scored in 27 successive Champions League group stage home games – the last time they failed to score was in a 0-0 draw against Valencia in December 2007.