Chelsea on Tuesday enjoyed their second 4-0 Champions League victory over 10-man Maccabi Tel Aviv this season to move into prime position to reach the knockout stages of the competition from Group G.
However, with Dynamo Kiev winning 2-0 against Porto, the qualifiers for the last 16 will only be determined in the last round of matches, when Chelsea host Porto and Kiev welcome Maccabi.
Goals by Gary Cahill, Willian, Oscar and Kurt Zouma secured the victory for Chelsea, whose task was made easier when Maccabi captain Tal Ben Haim, a key player in the heart of the defense, was sent off five minutes before halftime.
After five games — Chelsea, who only need to draw their final match to progress — and Porto each have 10 points with Kiev on eight, while Maccabi are bottom without a point.
Cahill put the visitors on the scoresheet in the 20th minute with a close-range effort after mounting Chelsea pressure as Maccabi’s spirited start faded after about 15 minutes.
Maccabi kept up their attempts to penetrate the Chelsea defense, but their cause was undermined when Ben Haim was shown a red card for a wild kick on striker Diego Costa.
The home side maintained their efforts after the break, but the result was sealed when Willian scored in the 73rd minute with a perfectly executed curling free-kick that beat the Maccabi wall and left goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic stranded.
Oscar made it 3-0 in the 77th from close range as Maccabi’s defensive shield was breached again before Zouma pounced on a corner in the first minute of stoppage time to seal the win.
Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho said the result flattered his side.
“I think we played very well in the first half, the pitch didn’t help,” Mourinho said.
“In the second we slept a bit for the first 15-20 minutes waiting for the second goal to come and only when we were again in danger did we react well. No doubt about the victory, but I think Maccabi deserved a bit more than that,” he said.
Maccabi coach Slavisa Jokanovic said the sending off made it impossible for his players to overcome technically superior opposition.
“Playing 11 against 11 is hard enough in the Champions League and when it’s 10 against 11 Chelsea players, it becomes pretty much impossible,” he said.
Moments before the second goal, Chelsea captain John Terry had to be substituted after injuring his ankle, an incident that Mourinho said occurred as a result of the poor playing surface.
The extent of the injury was not initially known, but Mourinho looked worried and suggested that Terry might not be available to play against Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Sunday.
“This is such a beautiful stadium and a wonderful crowd, but the surface was really bad,” he said.
They deserve better than this,” he added.
Mourinho was in playful mood at the post-match press conference, asking journalists for a calculator so he could figure out what Chelsea would have to do to qualify for the last 16.
After pausing and thinking about it, Mourinho said: “I know if we win, we finish first. If we lose we are going to the Europa League and with a draw second place.”
However, he was forced to deny there was a problem between him and Spain international striker Diego Costa after the two were seen shouting at each other on the way into the changing rooms at halftime.
“I reacted, he did too. At half-time in the dressing room, a few kisses and a few cuddles. No problem,” Mourinho said.
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