Chelsea cruise past Maribor but Loic Remy injury could be costly

It was a comfortable an emphatic win, but Chelsea could rue the cost of inflicting on Maribor their first defeat in eight Uefa Champions League fixtures this season, writes Jonathan Wilson.

Chelsea’s Didier Drogba wins an uncontested ball in the air during his team’s victory on Tuesday night in London. Ian Kington / AFP
Powered by automated translation

Chelsea 6 Maribor 0

Chelsea Remy 13', Drogba 23', Terry 31', Viler 54', Hazard 77' (pen), 90'

Man of the match Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

LONDON // It was a comfortable an emphatic win, but Chelsea could rue the cost of inflicting on Maribor their first defeat in eight Uefa Champions League fixtures this season.

Already without Diego Costa, struggling with his hamstring problems, they lost Loic Remy to a groin injury, potentially leaving Didier Drogba as their only fit striker for the trip to Manchester United on Sunday. He played 77 minutes on Tuesday night, but the game at Old Trafford will be a far stiffer test than this stroll.

Remy was struggling with his groin to such a degree that Drogba was warming up when, after 13 minutes, John Terry won the ball in the centre of the pitch and played it forward to him. Remy, who had been quietly impressive against Crystal Palace on Saturday, advanced, worked the ball onto his left foot and curled the ball into the bottom corner. Even as he did so, though, he pulled up and was replaced immediately.

Drogba soon had the chance to re-enact old highlights, rolling in a penalty as he had at the end of the shoot-out in the Champions League final in 2012, after Ales Mertelj had, perhaps slightly harshly, been deemed to have handled. And before half-time it was 3-0, with Eden Hazard leading a break, laying the ball outside him to Cesc Fabregas.

The Spaniard crossed for Terry, having charged the length of the field, to force in from close range. Again there was a sense of old glories being revived: the last time Terry and Drogba scored in the same game was in the last 16 in 2012 as Chelsea overcame a 3-1, first-leg deficit to beat Napoli.

It was all far too easy. The fourth score came nine minutes into the second half, after Filipe Luis advanced down the left and crossed for Hazard. His first touch perhaps took him wider than he would have liked, but it hardly mattered as he cut the ball back and it cannoned in off the heel of Mitja Viler.

Maribor were given the chance to redeem something as Nemanja Matic bundled over Agim Ibraimi in the box, but the forward hit the post with his penalty, after which the Chelsea procession continued.

The substitute Nathan Ake crashed a long-range effort off the bar, but the fifth did arrive with 13 minutes remaining, when Hazard tucked in a penalty after Branislav Ivanovic had gone down under challenge from Marko Suler. The Belgian ran onto Ake’s pass to add a sixth in the final minute.

A win at Maribor in two weeks will all but secure Chelsea’s progress to the last 16, and in that sense, it was job done. It may be, though, that the game ends up being more significant for the injury to Remy.

Even this Chelsea needs a fit and firing striker.

Follow our sports coverage on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE