Chelsea stretched their unbeaten start to the season to a club record-equaling 16 games with a 1-1 UEFA Champions League draw against NK Maribor on Wednesday, but the 2011-2012 winners were given a mighty scare.
The Slovenian upstarts, destroyed 6-0 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in London two weeks ago, took the lead in the 50th minute when Macedonia winger Agim Ibraimi curled in a spectacular left-foot shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Maribor, buoyed by a noisy crowd, swarmed all over Jose Mourinho’s side and had a great chance to make it 2-0 on the hour when unmarked teenager Luka Zahovic blazed the ball over the bar from close range with an open goal at his mercy.
Chelsea then upped the tempo and Nemanja Matic equalized with a tap-in at the far post after captain John Terry had headed on a right-wing corner from Cesc Fabregas in the 73rd minute.
The Londoners spurned an excellent opportunity to grab all three points when Eden Hazard was tripped in the area with four minutes to go. The Belgian picked himself up to take the penalty, but his effort was saved by Jasmin Handanovic.
A grim-faced Mourinho, who brought on Diego Costa and Oscar for Andre Schuerrle and Willian at halftime, and also replaced Filipe Luis with Ramires 11 minutes into the second half, was clearly unhappy with his side.
Chelsea started the game on the front foot with the unmarked Kurt Zouma heading over from close range and Didier Drogba, making his 100th career appearance in a UEFA competition, forcing Handanovic into a sprawling stop.
The longer the half went on, though, the more pedestrian the passing became from the visitors.
Ibraimi’s stunning left-foot drive sent the crowd wild and Maribor, back in the Champions League group stages after a 15-year absence, sensed victory, but Hazard, Oscar and Fabregas suddenly took hold of proceedings.
The Londoners continued to drive forward after Matic’s equalizer and Handanovic performed heroics when he went full length to deny Hazard after the Belgian burst clean through.
Hazard then saw his spot-kick saved by Handanovic.
At the final whistle Chelsea had equaled their best-ever start to a campaign set in 2005-2006.
‘CRIMINAL ACT’: The UCI said it ‘strongly condemns’ Dylan Groenewegen’s ‘dangerous behavior,’ which left Jakobsen in critical condition and injured other cyclists Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was in a coma on Wednesday, in “serious” condition, after he was thrown into and over a barrier at 80kph in the conclusion to the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne. Footage showed 23-year-old Jakobsen, of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step, racing elbow-to-elbow with fellow Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma as both men frantically tussled in a tight sprint to the line in Katowice. However, Jakobsen came off worst, somersaulting over the barriers before colliding with a photographer after Groenewegen had veered suddenly to the right, squeezing his rival into the security wall. “His condition is very serious. His life is
WEEKEND MATCHES: While Tatung FC made good on their chances early on, Taiwan Steel rallied to win the game 2-3 and move to the top with Taichung Futuro Sunday’s action saw Taichung Futuro, Taipower FC and Taiwan Steel tied for first place on 30 points in the Taiwan Football Premier League, while Hang Yuan FC picked up a point to take the No. 4 spot on 25 points after holding Taipower to a scoreless draw. In Taoyuan, Tatung FC hosted Taiwan Steel. It was an exciting matchup, as the visitors rallied from 2-0 down to take the game with three goals. Tatung made good on their chances early on. Honduran midfielder Elias Argueta opened the account 15 minutes into the game with a low shot from the right. Three minutes
Ronnie O’Sullivan delivered a scathing attack on the next generation of snooker players after he made the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship on Sunday, ending Chinese star Ding Junhui’s world championship dream. The mercurial 44-year-old Englishman won an enthralling high-quality second-round encounter 13-10 to set up a quarter-final clash with three-time champion Mark Williams. When asked by the BBC whether he thought he would remain at the top of the game for this long, the Briton, who turned professional in 1992, said the poor quality of younger players had secured his position and that something drastic would have to happen
Max Verstappen informed his Red Bull team that he would not be driving “like a grandma” in Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Sunday — and he was as good as his word. The Dutch 22-year-old seized his opportunity at Silverstone, ending dominant Mercedes’ run of four successive wins this season and moving up to second place overall, 30 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen’s confidence shone through early on, after slotting into third place behind the two Mercedes, when he was told by race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase to take care of his tires. “Mate, this is the only chance of being