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Chelsea's Oscar night ruined by Quagliarella

Thursday, 20 September 2012 - 11:56am IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Playing some wonderfully fluid football, the champions of Italy recovered from the Brazilian's double to secure a deserved Group E point through Arturo Vidal and Fabio Quagliarella.

Juventus refused to join in Chelsea's Oscar ceremony on Wednesday.

Playing some wonderfully fluid football, the champions of Italy recovered from the Brazilian's double to secure a deserved Group E point through Arturo Vidal and Fabio Quagliarella.

It was a frustrating night for Chelsea, who shortly after the half-hour were singing the praises of their new boy from Brazil. When moving to the Bridge in the summer, Oscar told the club's website that he saw himself as "an elegant type of ball-player" and he lived up to his words here, particularly with his sublime second goal. Nothing seems to faze the 21 year-old.

Having been handed the Brazil No?10 shirt as a teenager, Oscar is clearly used to dealing with pressure. When given the No 11 shirt, Oscar hoped he could do "justice" to such an important number in Chelsea's recent history.

Having won the Champions League through their muscular No?11, Chelsea began their defence with their new sinewy No?11. Oscar had taken the shirt from the departing Didier Drogba and immediately kept the number in the limelight for his new club.

Chelsea had hardly been reserved in reminding everyone of their exalted status secured in Munich in May. Military personnel paraded the Champions League trophy before kick-off, suggesting that it would need special forces to take it away. "We know what we are,'' crowed the inhabitants of the Matthew Harding Stand in that self-knowing way of theirs, "champions of Europe, we know what we are.'' Juventus were greeted at the Bridge by a fans'

banner that read: "Welcome to Chelsea FC; first London club to win the Champions League". They were also met by Oscar.

Winning the Champions League is one thing, retaining it is quite another challenge and the recruitment of the likes of Oscar for pounds 25?million had been designed to give a resilient side a more refined feel.

Juventus still represented an obvious threat, particularly the presence of Andrea Pirlo, the Old Lady's beloved beau. The bearded midfielder sat deep in front of Juventus' back three and sought to orchestrate Juventus' attacks. Chelsea had a plan for England's Euro 2012 nemesis; Oscar played off Fernando Torres, dropping back to challenge Pirlo, although he soon demonstrated the more creative instincts which Roman Abramovich had lavished so much money on.

It required half-an-hour before Oscar's skill was fully on show.

Helped by Oscar, Chelsea were quick to close down Pirlo, Torres showing quick thinking and quick feet to nick the ball off the Italian international and speed upfield. Torres picked out Eden Hazard but Andrea Barzagli was swift to cut out the danger. Hazard then attempted to return the compliment, lifting the ball to the far post for Torres, whose header was guided to safety.

Before the Oscar ceremony, Juventus had constantly worried Chelsea. When Barzagli swept a long ball forward, Claudio Marchisio was played onside by Branislav Ivanovic. Marchisio darted through and only the alertness of Petr Cech rescued Chelsea. Greater composure from Mirko Vucinic would then have brought Juventus the lead. First Vucinic hesitated, allowing Frank Lampard to block. Then Vidal released Vucinic, who fired wide.

That was enough sparring. Two heavyweights now went at it, Chelsea landing the first two blows. It was quickfire stuff, the first goal arriving in the 31st minute. Hazard slid the ball to Oscar, whose shot seemed destined for the well-positioned Gianluigi Buffon until it caught Leonardo Bonucci and diverted away from the Juventus keeper.

It was a sign of Oscar's popularity that he disappeared immediately from sight as he was engulfed by his team-mates. The Chelsea players clearly admire the Brazilian's technique and imagination, gifts paraded spectacularly two minutes later.

Found by Ashley Cole's pass, Oscar did brilliantly to spirit the ball past Pirlo on the edge of the Juventus area, (almost) reviving memories of the way Dennis Bergkamp tricked Nikos Dabizas 10 years ago. Oscar imparted spin on the ball, taking it away from Pirlo, actually away from goal. He ran after it and then curled it elegantly past Buffon from the edge of the area. In thought and deed, Oscar was a step ahead of Juventus.

Cole won the race to be the first Chelsea player to congratulate the smiling Oscar. Not all were bowled over. Speaking on Sky, Graeme Souness argued that Oscar's first touch had been fortuitous, yet the Brazilian's eyes were on the ball throughout, indicating he knew exactly where he was manouevring the ball to escape Pirlo and fashion the scoring opportunity.

Juventus refused to bow to Oscar. Within five minutes, the Italians had pulled one back. Vidal had already given notice of his threat, moving forward into promising positions but he was helped by hesitancy in Chelsea's defence. Granted a yard of room, Vidal threaded a low shot past Cech.

Chelsea went hunting a third in the second half. Lampard went close with a free-kick. Then Hazard was desperately unlucky not to be awarded a penalty after being pushed twice by Bazargli and then falling amidst a tangle of legs. Hazard looked bemused when Pedro Proenca awarded the decision to Juventus.

Juventus grew in strength as the half progressed. Willed on by their fans, who rarely settled back in their seats and certainly rarely paused from their exhortations, the Italians kept charging forward in search of an equaliser. The tiring Oscar left,

having felt a hard challenge from Bonucci, but Juan Mata was there to keep up the creativity levels. Yet Juventus were hungrier, leveling with 10 minutes remaining. Mistakes littered Chelsea's half; first John Obi Mikel erred, inviting Juventus forward. John Terry was sluggish in realising Quagliarella's run and the substitute coolly slotted the ball past Cech. Moments later, Quagliarella turned and clipped the bar.

 


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