CHELSEA must wait to secure qualification from Champions League Group G after Eden Hazard missed a late penalty in a 1-1 draw against minnows Maribor.
Scorers: Maribor - Ibraimi (50); Chelsea - Matic (73)
The Slovenians were unrecognisable from the side beaten 6-0 by Chelsea two weeks ago and claimed a deserved lead when Agim Ibraimi curled a beautiful shot into the top corner five minutes into the second half.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho had already reacted to a poor first-half showing by his side at the Stadion Ljudski vrt by making a double substitution at half-time, introducing striker Diego Costa and Oscar.
Luka Zahovic missed a fine chance to double the advantage and enhance Maribor’s claims of inflicting Chelsea’s first defeat of the season, before Nemanja Matic’s close-range effort 17 minutes from time which saved the Blues’ blushes.
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Maribor goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic saved well from Hazard and Costa, who had the ball in the net after 79 minutes, only for the strike to be ruled out for offside.
Hazard was then fouled for an 86th minute spot-kick, but the Belgian’s effort was too central and Handanovic saved. Mourinho was less than impressed by the performances against Shrewsbury and QPR and it was another insipid showing.
It was not the warm-up the Premier League leaders would have been hoping for ahead of a return to domestic duty at Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime.
Petr Cech made his fourth start of the season after being displaced by Thibaut Courtois as first-choice goalkeeper. Kurt Zouma, Didier Drogba and Andre Schurrle also came in following the 2-1 defeat of QPR, for Gary Cahill, Costa and Oscar.
Chelsea fell behind five minutes into the second half as Ibraimi, in the right channel, turned back on to his left foot and struck an unstoppable shot into the far corner of Cech’s goal.
The Blues pulled level from a corner – John Terry headed the ball down and Matic thumped it in from close range. With the game stretched, Hazard took it upon himself to make something happen and his trickery led to a foul by Mitja Viler. However, the Belgium playmaker saw his spot-kick saved as Maribor secured a deserved draw.
Maribor: Handanovic, Viler, Arghus, Rajcevic, Stojanovic, Sallalich (N’Diaye 90), Filipovic, Mertelj, Ibraimi (Bohar 89), Tavares, Zahovic (Mendy 72). Subs Not Used: Cotman, Suler, Vrsic, Trajkovski.
Chelsea: Cech, Luis (Ramires 55), Terry, Zouma, Ivanovic, Hazard, Matic, Fabregas, Willian (Oscar 46), Schurrle (Costa 46), Drogba. Subs Not Used: Courtois, Salah, Cahill, Azpilicueta.
Referee: Daniele Orsato (Italy).
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