Diego Costa returned to something resembling his former self, Cesc Fabregas is fighting for his Chelsea future and other things we learned from Chelsea 2 Porto 0.
By Coral Barry
Costa rouses himself at last
Restored to the starting line-up after being axed for two games, Costa responded to his manager’s very public criticism in emphatic fashion. The Brazilian bulldozer acquitted himself tonight with all the fire and energy that has been sorely missing from his game this season. It was his rebounded shot that led to Chelsea’s first goal after he made an incisive run off the last defender. Shortly afterwards he was booked for an unnecessary trip of Iker Casillas in a typically aggressive move but that was a rare indiscretion on this occasion. Mourinho has made it clear he has no truck with the tantrum and bib throwing Costa of late; he wanted the old Costa back. We saw that player tonight.
Fabregas future looks shaky
It says all you need to know about Fabregas’ current Chelsea career that in the Blues’ most important game of the season so far, a match to decide their Champions League fate and possibly that of their manager, he was sat glumly on the bench. Mourinho’s faith in the Spaniard is waning. With just three assists in 21 games and a series of pedestrian performances, his untouchable status has been removed. Mourinho does not keep players he does not trust. Fabregas needs to find his form and quickly.
Mourinho job safe for now
No doubt about it, Mourinho needed to win this game. After a few weeks of tentative progress was interrupted by yet another inexcusable Premier League defeat at the weekend, The Special One was feeling the pressure once again. Mourinho would have been encouraged that his players put in a committed and assured display in what was a critical game for all concerned. He got a reaction from Costa and Hazard and the signs were that the Chelsea players are still listening to their manager.
The Bridge stems the flow
Chelsea may have been beaten three times at home already this season, but Stamford Bridge remains a difficult place to play. Chelsea were too strong for Porto tonight and kept up their incredible record of just one loss in 38 home Champions League games. The foundations for the Chelsea revival can be laid at the Bridge.
Chelsea are a team to fear
Chelsea can go far in the Champions League. The Blues have a huge fight on their hands to claim a top four spot in the Premier League, but they were impressive tonight against a team that easily brushed them aside in the reverse fixture in Portugal. Mourinho is a master of Europe and is aiming to become the only manager to win the Champions League with three different clubs. When the competition restarts again in February, Chelsea should have a few new faces, be further along the recovery road and as group winners they will get a good draw. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the Londoners could go far.